A mega-wealthy buyer gathering up parcels of land is news that will cause unease and even strike fear into most small town residents — except maybe a local real estate agent or two.
Well, that’s what is happening in the White River Valley as a Utah businessman recently bought almost a thousand acres in four local towns. David R. Hall, a Mormon developer, has $100 million set aside to spend, and says he’s just getting started.
The ultimate goal is NewVista a settlement he wants to build, composed of 50 diamond-shaped communities of 15,000 to 20,000 people each.
Over the next 30 to 50 years, Hall hopes to realize plans by the Mormon religious leader to create an integrated community that could house as many as 20,000 people within a few square miles. In a telephone interview Tuesday, Hall said he was hoping to purchase enough land to create a large contiguous plot on which to base his development, which he hopes could provide a model for an environmentally friendly, sustainable way of living.
[…] In 1833, Smith [Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism] and his followers imagined something they called a “Plat,” or “Plot,” of Zion — a city on a rectangular grid that would integrate all needs of a community into one design.
“That’s the fundamental background,” Hall said. “We’re of course doing all the engineering to figure out how it might work.”
David Hall inherited his fortune from the family engineering business, Novatek, which makes synthetic diamond drilling technology. Novatek, a privately held company, was acquired in 2015 by Schlumberger Ltd, the international an oil and gas exploration giant.
Vermonters in Royalton, Sharon, Strafford and Tunbridge are predictably worried about what this might do to their communities. Hall claims there should be no cause for concern, and with a time frame of 30 to 50 years this guy is obviously planning long term. Eternity perhaps?
So how do you build utopia in the White River Valley ?
Now reports are that Hall hasn’t reached out to the community, but I believe he actually has, just not in the a way you might expect. He may not be out shaking hands to reassure the general public, but buried like a shale oil deposit to pump later is his inspired “good will” gesture.
Hall said he hopes to work with the Vermont Law School in South Royalton — “The best environmental law school in the country,” he called it — and floated the idea of building a research center nearby and giving grants to professors there.
Dangling that offer in front of a struggling law school is better than showing up at twenty years’ worth of town meeting days. Do you think, perchance, David Hall might have permits and environmental regulations in mind?
Note to self: To build a 20,000 resident utopian paradise in a small town
- First step: buy …err invest in a law school and professors.