The Upper Valley News is reporting that Scott Milne will sign a tentative agreement today with Utah developer David R. Hall to sell his controlling interest in the Quechee Highlands development in Hartford Vermont.
Hall and Milne took questions at the Vermont Law School. (Hall was visiting VLS in South Royalton to discuss the massive new building he has proposed financing for the struggling school. It would house the D. R. Hall Vista Center for study of experimental econo-systemic communal living.)
Quechee Highlands is Milne’s proposed project for a 15 acre mixed retail and residential development bordering Interstate 91 in Hartford. The project, years in the works, won a significant court case but has several permitting hurdles remaining.
The April 1st Quechee Highlands agreement with Hall may not be a surprise to Milne’s political fan. Speculation is that this is part of an ongoing plan to simplify his business interests. With an eye on a run on the Republican ticket against Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy, Milne acknowledged the need to simplify his business holdings – He explained that the prior sale of the family travel agency freed him from obligations “should I get lucky … it gives me the ability to step back for six years.”
Motives for Utah millionaire David R. Hall’s purchase of the planned Hartford development are less clear, though it may also be part of a larger vision. Hall has quietly bought an estimated 900 acres of land in four towns in the area. He hopes to build a large contiguous plot to house 15,000 to 20,000 residents who would live in a utopian econo-systemic styled community, modeled on the Mormon teachings of Joseph Smith (who was born nearby in Sharon, VT).
One local Republican office holder commented anonymously on Milne and Hall’s deal:
“At first glance it seems he[Milne] finally made a smart strategic move and freed his campaign to promote more development and rail against regulatory overreach without a blatant conflict of interest .”
However the outspoken Republican says she is worried over the municipal implications of a large retail mall near Interstates 89 and 91 interchanges, that would in her words be owned “…by a quasi- independently governed 20,000 resident tax free ‘city state’.”
And added “It is only April 1st and heaven only knows how this will all play out for the Upper Valley. But honestly, now he looks to be more a troublesome wealthy fool than a visionary.” It was not clear to whom she was referring.