Intrepid blogger/reporter Nicole Antal, who writes in the Daily Upper Valley community website, has written her sixth story about David Hall and New Vista for her Very Vermont column.
Antal, who was first to break the story, has now compiled how local and statewide candidates and office holders stand on the proposed massive project. Hall is the Utah-based engineer/developer and Mormon (member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka LDS) who has set out to build a 20,000-resident utopian community in Sharon (the birthplace of LDS founder Joseph Smith) and several surrounding towns. Plans for his futuristic New Vista and descriptions of the proposed community make it sound, at least to me, like a benevolent real-life version of Zardoz.
Although they were contacted twice by Antal, gubernatorial candidates Minter, Lisman, Galbraith,[update: Peter Galbraith commented 6/16 on New Vista on Reddit.com in response to question ] Paige, and Ericson did not respond. Phil Scott and Matt Dunne responded by email.
Dunne expressed a strong desire to preserve the character and quality of Vermont life and says the Act 250 process should support that goal.
Phil “listen and learn” Scott wants to “learn a little more about this curious project to make sure it’s a good idea for the community and the state.” He wonders if “perhaps there’s a good idea in here somewhere.” And, he says, “Like any other developer, they [New Vista] would have to follow the rules and regulations laid out in Vermont’s laws, so we’ll have opportunities to learn more.” Funny, I notice Scott just can’t quite bring himself to mention Act 250 here in a positive context. Perhaps there’s a good idea in Act 250 after all, Phil.
The area targeted by Hall includes Vermont House districts Windsor-Orange 1 (Royalton, Tunbridge) and Windsor-Orange 2 (Sharon, Thetford, Norwich, and Strafford); Antal contacted and got responses from all the legislative candidates. It is well worth reading the candidates’ full comments on the Daily Upper Valley website.
All of the local respondents (three Independents, one Republican, and a Democrat) indicated degrees of caution and skepticism over the wisdom of plunking down New Vista and its 20,000 people in rural Vermont. Another notable common thread was how they all seemed thankful to have the Act 250 regulatory process in place. As far as I know New Vista is not far enough along to have become involved in the Act 250 development approval process.
District 2 Republican House candidate David Ainsworth also notes the Act 250 requirement and adds he is “a little bit apprehensive about it [the project’s scale]” but couldn’t resist adding this: “But one of my biggest concerns is the overreaction and putting in a lot of regulations that will restrict everyone else’s opportunities to do things.” Have futuristic utopian city/states, throughout history always favored fewer government regulations and low tax states? I guess he fears Vermont might lose out on the coming boom in utopian city/state developments to New Hampshire.
Nicole Antal’s ongoing effort to get candidates and elected officials on public record early on in this process couldn’t come at a better time: it looks like David Hall will begin a more systematic wooing of Vermonters’ support.
Recognizing a lucrative opportunity, Montpelier lobbyist/PR man Kevin Ellis reportedly solicited Hall for his business and offered his services. Ellis will be making connections and smoothing the way for the high-density 20,000-resident New Vista development. “This may be a great idea,” Ellis says. New Vista, he believes “…would inject millions of dollars and lots of new people into communities.” He could also add, but doesn’t, that the “injection” of dollars and lots of new people (20,000) would permanently, radically change — basically destroy — the existing rural character and lives of a large part of central Vermont.
Luckily we have a record of what the candidates say about New Vista now, let’s see what happens when long-time Montpelier lobbyist and PR ace Kevin Ellis sweet talks them in the years to come.
For now, says Ellis, David Hall is (under his guidance) “reaching out to local officials and residents.” And later, should the need arise for any state rules or regulations to be adjusted favorably to the planned development by the legislature, long-time Montpelier lobbyist Kevin Ellis probably wants “to be in the middle of it.”
Hmmm,right ‘smack in the middle of it,’ that sounds familiar…
Man with no-name: “Baxter’s over there, Rojo’s there, me right smack in the middle”
[Yup, somebody gets a fistful of New Vista dollars]
Man with no-name: Crazy bell-ringer was right. There’s money to be made in these parts.