MONTPELIER, VT — Lawmakers and residents in Vermont are trying to stop a Utah developer from building a planned community he is modeling after the ideas of the founder of the LDS Church.
David Hall of NewVistas has already purchased nearly 1,300 acres of land near the birthplace of Joseph Smith, with plans to build a self-sustaining community of 20,000 residents.
A bipartisan group of legislators passed a resolution, which will now move to the Vermont House, to prevent the project from starting. In addition, some residents from four rural communities, which could be displaced by the proposed community, formed the Stop NewVistas group.
The lawmakers who opposed the development say most communities only have 6,600 people. They argued building a 20,000-strong residential development would change the character of their rural, mountainous region, tax their resources and limit access to recreational areas, and they say there is no proof this plan of self-sustainability will work on such a large scale. They wanted proof of similar projects’ success before allowing such a large-scale community.
Hall told a Vermont publication he purchased the Vermont land, which would exceed the size of Central Park, to conserve it and prevent it from being broken up further. He believes it would be years before any of his plans, based on Smith’s ‘Plat of the City of Zion,’ become reality. However, he is also pursuing similar land purchases, on a smaller scale, in Utah.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints issued a statement in 2016 saying Hall’s efforts are a private venture and not associated with its faith in any way. The Church also stated it makes no judgment about the scientific or environmental merits of the proposed developments.
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