The Mormons are coming! The Mormons are coming!

To all those up in arms over Scott Milne’s planned development near Exit 1, or Jesse Sammis’ soon-to-be-downsized proposal at Exit 4, how about this one?

A wealthy Mormon developer is buying land in four towns near the Joseph Smith Memorial in hopes of building a planned community there inspired in part by the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This doesn't look at all cultish to you, does it?

This doesn’t look at all… cultish, does it?

That’s from the Valley News, which would be Vermont’s best daily newspaper if only it was headquartered in Vermont. After it published a story a few days ago, it was picked up by ol’ buddy BP at Green Mountain Daily. Since then, it’s begun to ripple outwards — as it should. This is a Big Biden Deal.

David Hall has already bought some 900 acores in Royalton, Sharon, Strafford and Tunbridge. His goal is to build a massive development housing “as many as 20,000 people within a few square miles.”

Geesh, talk about changing the Vermont landscape. If fully populated, his hypothetical Mormontown would be the third-largest community in Vermont. Not that we have to panic just yet; he’s looking 30-50 years down the road.

But still. His NewVista Foundation has already invested more than three and a half million dollars in land purchases, and “has about $100 million at its disposal.” That’s enough to carry out the plan, for sure.

If this were to come to pass, it would completely change the character of what is now a largely rural area nestled in the crook of I-89. It would probably lead to continuous development from this area to the Upper Valley. Scott Milne’s plan is dwarfed by comparison.

Hall claims to have no ulterior motives. He says his community would not be strictly Mormon; it would be open to everyone.

But still. Who, besides Mormons, would choose to live in a community based on design plans from Joseph Smith that’s bought and paid for by a Mormon millionaire?

The execution of this plan has been strictly under the radar; no contact with Mormon church officials or with any local governments in the four towns. According to VPR’s Steve Zind, the first person to get wind of the scheme was Sharon resident Nicole Antal, who was “going through property transfers as she helped prepare the Sharon town report,” and noticed NewVista’s series of purchases.

Launching an unprecedented development in secret. Well, that’s one way to win friends and influence people.

And now, since this is a political blog, let’s explore the political dimensions of a Mormontown in rural Vermont.

For starters, the new settlers would overwhelm the existing towns; their current combined population is 6,657. Add 20,000 like-minded newcomers to that, and current residents will be permanently on the short end of the democratic process.

I think we have to assume that the vast majority of Mormontown residents would skew conservative. So what would that do to the area’s legislative delegation?

Well, the area currently has three state representatives and four state senators (the four towns are split between Windsor and Orange Counties). All of ‘em are Democrats, and all but one are safe Democratic seats. At least for now.

Of course, if we suddenly have 10,000 to 15,000 new voters in those four towns, their representation would expand. Orange and Windsor combined would have at least one more senator, maybe two; the four towns’ House delegation would grow from three to seven. (Assuming, just for argument’s sake, that Vermont’s population otherwise remains fairly stable, which is its established pattern.)

The net effect on the House: from three Democratic seats to seven Republican.

The net effect on the Senate: from four safe Democratic seats to probably five Republican. That’s a huge impact on a body with only 30 members.

Plus, you add a sizable cadre of committed conservative voters to statewide elections, and suddenly the Republicans are much more competitive.

This is all idle speculation, since it assumes that the state will remain otherwise basically unchanged in population and politics. Won’t happen, not even in change-averse Vermont. But it does help to outline the potential impact of David Hall’s dream on our state. Attention must be paid.


10 thoughts on “The Mormons are coming! The Mormons are coming!

  1. Susan

    You didn’t mention that if they stay, the tax exemptions for religious property- no property tax which would spell disaster for that part of our state.
    With almost a 1,000 acres bought already it doesn’t look like any dust is collecting on this project, this is a man with an agenda that could happen sooner than later.

  2. David R Hall

    I doubt that any Mormon’s would come. They are too caught up in individual property ownership bad capital gain! I guarantee that this is not a Mormon idea. It is my extrapolation of An 1833 document recorded by clerks assisting Joseph Smith.

    But if you want to squash all discussion of sustainable systems and cling to your current unsustainable views of extreme urban sprawl commuter economy Vermont ….carry on!

    David R Hall

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Mr. Hall: Thanks for chiming in. Pardon me if the idea of a Joseph Smith-inspired mega-community (by Vermont standards) launched by a millionaire Mormon awakens the cynic in me. But
      I’m sure that if you’ve got a good plan, it will thrive in spite of my cynicism.

      I’m originally from southeast Michigan, and there we had Tom Monaghan, Domino’s Pizza founder and extremely devout Catholic. He built an entire city in Florida called Ave Maria, which was not restricted to Catholics but was very theocratically-oriented. (No birth control sales allowed, for instance.) So when I read about your plan, I saw it through the lens of my own experience with devout millionaires.

      Believe me, I’ve got nothing against sustainable systems. I’m a big fan of the nonprofit think tank “Strong Towns.” If you’re not familiar with their work, you might look them up. They aren’t Mormon, but they do have lots of good ideas and they clearly identify the real costs of sprawl.

      1. David R Hall

        I have not heard so will look them up. The foundation web site is about two years behind but there is a lot of information that I hope will be debated openly. I welcome critique but as you have seen bristle when individuals try and make this into a Mormon movement. I am LDS but I have learned from the churches many blunders not to have this community be run by any religion especially my own.

        Most LDS people would be against this concept. I have studied it for 40 years and so came to conclusions that surprised me and my staff.

        Joseph Smith produced in his short 15 year career thousands of documents and he never had time to figure out his own works.

        One unpuncuated Early Modern English statement on the “plot” states that once one community is laid off and supplied…build out another until the whole world is filled and let every man live…

        That is way off from an insular faith or cult based system and forced me and my scientists to think much deeper than we had been thinking.

        Lots of problems still to be solved but lots of fun getting them solved. Plenty of fun for all who are willing to jump in and learn.



      2. John S. Walters Post author

        There will be opportunities for you to introduce yourself and NewVista to the area. You should know, going in, that Vermonters in general are wary of outsiders with big ideas. You’ll have your work cut out.

      3. David R Hall

        There will be many years before any buildings will be going up and so in the meantime we will be good citizens and take good care of the properties and help the community restore and build.

        10-15 years from now when there are working prototypes of elements of the system it will be much easier for others to catch onto what I am working on.

        The economic system is the most critical element and the biggest reason people will want to adopt the full system. The economic system works outside of a physical community at about 50% of potential but well enough to be superior to our present system to operate independently. Most of my effort and funding is focused on the economic part of the plan.

        I would appreciate very much the opportunity to speak with you directly and would like to meet with you when I am out in July.


    2. newzjunqie

      “Doubt any Mormans’ would come” and “Not a Mormon idea”??? Sir–please. Vermonters may *seem* simple but overwhelming majority are nobodys’ fool, governor notwithstanding.

      As a Morman- what’s different than the way FLDS has bought up land & operated in Texas and other states with the YFZ cults. The one in CO or CO City has just found to have harrassed & violated the rights of other local residents who are not FLDS.

      And fits perfectly with the stealth takeover LDS & FLDS refugees have warned of as the master plan and its mission to rule the populous–not unlike its evangelical counterpart–erroneous belief of Dominionism as taught by the likes of Pat Robertson minus the grandiose scheme of a cultlike takeover- more or less simply involves infiltration and influence peddling.

      As clearly a devotee and follower of polygamist Joseph Smith, what else would anyone with a brain suspect. Also noted are the many NewVista Foundation schools, charity and other enterprises around the country, notably devoid of religious or LDS reference, if connected, common sense would indicate sleepers.

      How can anyone not suspect possibility of future manipulation re VT marriage laws through courts as is done elsewhere: “… more permissive Utah, where last year a judge ruled that a ban on polygamy is unconstitutional …”

      Many Mormans have faith, would not see beliefs as a cult but practice their beliefs as do believers and mainstream churches.

      I suggest Vermonters study the beliefs of the LDS and FLDS plus religious cults in general. Nominal LDS membership not privy to or practice the more grandiose cult-like activities nor may even understand its own history of FLDS with its perverted temple-rites which are still practiced and merely arranged wife-swapping orgies, or the polygamous teachings inherent within the religion and relation to Morman beliefs re salvation. Some FLDS are not involved with the child marriages but operate as consenting adults.

      What I find puzzling is the claim of those not to believe in the practice of polygamy where it is located, however if so, the cults which operate openly performing child marriages would be frowned upon much more, and LDS assistance in shutting them down by law enforcement would be happening, as has happened with the rampant abuse of children primarily boys wthin the RCC in the USwith many parishes bankrupted or nearly so by lawsuits. Or if there is outreach to orpaned FLDS children, or women seeking to escape the oppressive life with their children.
      -This woman confirms and explains nuances of the more widely-known info available:
      – Sister Wives creepy counsel:
      – Lost boys:
      One boys’ account -1000 11 years ago, many driven off the premises, dumped on the side of the road:
      Had this in my files- remember this- eek!

  3. diane bourdeau

    I believe this is an Agenda 21 Program. Having been born an raised in the North Country, I have grown to love the beauty, and care Vermonters have given their state over the last almost seventy years of my life. What I see saddens me greatly, for now I fear for this beautiful state.

    What this will bring I believe will be a destruction to the beauty of this once lovely state. A commercialization to a state that cares so much that they do not allow billboards to advertise.

    I hope this project dies on the vine, not built on Vermont’s soil.

    Vermont has an interesting group of people that would like to see Vermont as its own country someday. Do you realize what would happen if this happens, and these projects are able to be built in your Vermont. God forbid any of these of these projects come to pass. But think, just think how Agenda 21 program would completely destroy this lovely farming state. Controlled now by the corporate farmers, and their agendas.

  4. newzjunqie

    High on the LDS agenda for quite some time has been legalization of plural marriages which is quietly approved by the LDS in the areas where it is rampant or it could not continue. “Sister Wives” which airs on cable and attempts to show how much fun they are, is thoroughly disgusting, but serves to show the push to go mainstream.

    I see they’re not going mainstream with the reality of tiny teens married to men old enough to be their great grandfathers, so a few steps above the FLDS practice of marrige to 12 year olds and the casting out of boys as they reach puberty to save each crop of little girls for the creepy old men. See “lost boys”. There are also graves where deformed babies have been buried. Afaic- nothing more than a cult which legitimizes perversion and victimizes women and children complete with cradle-to-grave isolation from society- the only way cults can continue. Also some personal experiences.

    Any search will show many respected media outlets saying “it’s time” to legalize polygamy, apparently the LDS/FLDS has been quietly pouring on the payola as it appears they are now doing here- hence the interest in a fast-friendship with VLS which was the clue. Cults take over their victims & surroundings slowly by stealth like a pernicious disease as Scientology has in FL-forgot the name of town.

    If anyone thinks this is on par with same-sex please do a little research on FLDS and its sordid history which continues, and the control they exert over the towns thay have overrun, welfare benefits etc etc. I guess they could call a move to VT–with the somewhat generous Dr D., medicaid, food stamps, fuel assistance, weatherization, property tax income-sensitivity–just a “business decision”.

    Personally my concern is the mind control & soul-destroying slavery inherent in each lifestyle- to say nothing of the violation to their human rights they don’t know they have. FLDS & some of the plural marriage practices amount to nothing more than institutionalized slavery & legalized pedophilia with arranged marriages in other countries to brides as young as 8 married to really old men who literally purchase them. When married to younger men, they become nothing more than a servant to the extended family and a sex-slave to the husband. Many women attempt suicide by immolation, hospitals have many burn victims who consider that preferable to the lifelong cruelty they are subjected to and the knowing that their female children will share the same fate.

    VT could become a haven for other religions that practice plural marriges which include defacto sharia law. I think we need to ask ourselves what kind of state we wish to be and take a good look at attracting contributers to VT who share our values while rejecting ppl who are only here to use VT for their own interests while not serving or contributing to ours.

    VTers need to wake the hell up & grow a spine, batten the hatches and do something about residency requirements to prevent even more of a stampede of would-be riders streaming into VT to hop aboard our large and comfy gravy train, than we already have. And before we are more overrun than we already are with ppl who see our lax welfare rules, fat medicaid rolls and rest of the aforementioned as a jackpot.

  5. Jesse

    As a current resident of Colorado and someone who still spends a lot of time in the Tunbridge area, I can honestly say that there are countless better locations out West to build something like this. Places where it’s development, not to mention it’s eventual success or failure, will not leave a community that has been established for hundreds of years drastically altered forever. In my opinion, coming into a region and community that’s been around for hundreds of years and drastically altering it is not truly sustainable.

    Mr. Hall, I respectfully ask that you please consider a better suited location for your project, which I truly believe does have many good intentions and eventual global applications. In order to do the most good, ideas this grand are best prototyped in more “neutral” locations, where their eventual concepts, if successful, can then be implemented elsewhere. Surrounding a project like this with opposition out of the gate will only hinder it’s chances of long term success.


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