How to build a utopian community in White River Valley

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.

newvistavt 1The 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.”

[From The Valley News’ upgraded, snazzier than ever website]

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.

3 thoughts on “How to build a utopian community in White River Valley

  1. BP, your link about VLS is three years old. The “little law school that could” is doing much better now, thank you very much, and:

    Nicole Antal On “To clarify, Vermont Law School has no plans to work with NewVista Foundation, nor is the VLS administration in talks with NewVista.”
    — Maryellen Apelquist, Director of Communications at Vermont Law School

    Personally, I am wondering if Mr. Hall is looking to these properties as a dystopian (bug-out) community, rather than utopian community, as he referred to VT being well-placed (according to him) for the climatic disruptions coming our way. He made this reference in a phone convo with Royalton Radio (worth a listen).

    I see another case of someone with megabucks playing at social engineering without the slightest idea of what he is doing. While his plans are outlandish, he is sure to gum up the works for local folks (and regulators) for years.

    1. Thanks Katrinka.

      I knew the VLS link was three years old but assume the school might still be open to such an offer should one be made by Mr. Hall, even though their situation has improved.The VNews was clear that the idea was “floated” by the NewVista people[Hall].

      And I recommend the DailyUV article:
      I was unaware of it until after writing my diary.

  2. More big ideas aimed at ‘growing’ little Vermont into a rich man’s plaything. Good luck to the hapless locals.

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