Utah millionaire David R. Hall answered questions from Vermonters by phone on Saturday to tell locals about his NewVista project he plans for that area. Nicole Antal who writes for the online events and news publication DailyUV researched and broke this story last week. She has a rundown of Saturday’s Q & A session here and they provide an audio file of it here. [correction note:Hall answered questions from a Tunbridge Library forum by phone. The diary was changed to reflect that, BP]
The NewVista project,as described in a planning document [link paragraph five], will be what they call “a massively scalable and sustainable community econosystem.” And it is well worth a glance at the details :
When individuals come to a NewVista community, they will deposit their intellectual assets and cash with the community capital fund (except for operating cash, which will be deposited into an account at the community’s approved bank), receiving legal instruments acknowledging the deposits.
Hall, a Mormon, has bought hundreds of acres of land near the birth place of Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith in Sharon Vermont. Some spill-over development will occur in Tunbridge, Strafford and Royalton.
At Saturday’s meeting local residents asked thoughtful questions and Hall answered openly. It also seemed from Antal’s report Hall explained what was going to happen, not to ask what the residents might want to happen to their town.
Like some kind of 21st century utopian-engineer-colonialist, Hall is determined to plunk down his 15,000- to 20,000-resident city-state in four upper White River Valley towns. The impact shouldn’t be underestimated. The size and scale to the rest of the state is notable: one local resident made the point that only three cities in Vermont have populations that large or larger than his NewVista city.
Here are a couple quick takeaways .
NewVista may, according to Hall, take upwards of half a century to complete, but it is a process, starting sooner rather than later. So heads-up. His ideal time frame: “Within 15 years, I hope to do multiple districts throughout the US in different places.” Curiously and without explanation he mentioned at the meeting that Vermont wasn’t part of his initial plan.
One thing is clear: Hall’s NewVista dream is well funded. NewVista is “a for-profit trust, and pays taxes.” I am not that familiar with corporate tax structure but it is likely to complicate a small town’s existing tax structure.
And for anyone who doubts his lack of sensitivity to the local towns control I have copied part of one exchange from Antal’s DailyUV article:
Question: “You have mentioned a couple of times that you wouldn’t be interested in going forward with this if the local people weren’t interested, is that right?”
Mr. Hall: “That’s right; it’s not going to happen if people of Vermont don’t want it.”
Question: “I would suggest that instead of buying any more land that you and your family and whoever come here and meet the people and find out what we are like, and what we want, and what we don’t want
Mr. Hall: “I already know that the local people don’t want this. In time, over time, people will probably like it if they understand it. There is not one place in the United States, or even in the world where local people ever would embrace change. That’s just the logical truth.”
Question: “I assume you are local to someplace?”
Mr. Hall: “Yes I am”
Question: “What do you think about changes in your neighborhood?
Mr. Hall: “I am a much broader-thinking person than most people. Others aren’t. You can’t compare what I would think with. My neighbors hate this idea. So I can’t do anything about that.”
Question: “I might suggest that before you buy anymore properties, if you say that you are not going forward if the locals aren’t for it, then why you would continue buying more properties. What about a study?”
Mr. Hall: “I didn’t say I wouldn’t do it if the locals aren’t for it. I said I won’t do it if VERMONT is not for it. (…) It’s not rational to expect a local person who is established, a 7th generation or something, to ever support this. That’s unreasonable. “
If I lived in Sharon or any surrounding town that exchange would sound more than a few alarms. Hall admits locals probably don’t want his city/state, but that’s because he is a “broader thinking person.”
The locals, he says, probably will like it once they understand it. Do you suppose this would be after they sell or after they are enlightened to his vision?
David Hall says local opposition is not rational. I’d guess he believes resistance is “feudal.”