In a recent statement, Republican US Senate candidate Scott Milne, reacting to the massive futuristic “utopian” city David Hall is planning for Vermont, makes it obvious he views the entire New Vista issue through his own peculiar personal lens. Milne zeroes in almost exclusively on his pet issue in his 2014 run for governor: alleged “overreach” by regional development boards and Act 250.
For a number of years Milne and his business partner (and campaign funder), attorney David Boise III have been attempting to build a mixed use development project on land they own in Hartford, Vermont.
The Quechee Highlands project, which borders Interstate 91 in Hartford, has wound its way through the development review process and various court cases for a number of years. After a defeat in one contentious hearing several years ago an angry Milne remarked: “I’m going to try to figure out if I’m going to do anything, and if I do, it’s probably going to involve more lawyers, and it’s just going to continue to brand Vermont as a bad place to do business,” Although the project recently won a significant court case, hurdles remain — along with apparently some bitter feelings on Milne’s part.
Milne’s comment (below) on the massive thousand-acre multi-town New Vista project was part of an ongoing batch of local and statewide candidates’ reactions gathered up by Nicole Antal, who follows this issue for the Daily Upper Valley community website.
“Although I appreciate the candor of folks who are whispering about it not being right — because “it’s inspired by Mormons” or because it could attract hardworking Republicans to Vermont and upset one-party rule — particularly in Windsor County, [only two of the towns targeted by New Vista are in Windsor County] I hope we will get folks with those prejudices out of the way as judges, juries, or regional planners — so Vermont can carefully and soberly review this idea.“
Not sure what he even means by “the candor of folks who are whispering.” But Milne could have taken the time to educate himself about the project’s origin and found that early on it was David Hall himself who said the project was partly inspired by his Mormon background, although Hall has maintained that he does not want the LDS Church’s official involvement. The official LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) reaction to the project can be found here.
Generally, the reactions of all dozen or so Republican, Democratic, and Independent candidates for local and state offices indicated a basic level of caution over the massive project and sympathy for community concerns. And all save Milne seemed thankful to have the Act 250 development review process in place to regulate the process.
Let’s unpack his comment a bit. Milne alone of the candidates contacted fails to comment on objections to the size and scale Hall’s proposed population of up to 20,000 residents for the self-sufficient city/state he has in mind for the rural area. Without evidence, Milne implies New Vista will not get a fair hearing due to “one party rule — particularly in Windsor County” and suggests Democrats are acting out of fear of what Milne thinks would be an influx of “hardworking Republicans.”
While the contest he’s in is a low-key senate campaign for now, Scott Milne is again a man running with his own little axe to grind — a personal dislike, perhaps even a hatred of regional planning boards and the act 250 development review. One wonders how he thinks becoming a US Senator will solve his local development issues. What axe would he be able to wield? And how sharp would it have to be to cut through the red tape of local and state control?