Business & Economy

Protest planned Friday against massive ‘NewVistas’ proposal

NewVistas rendering of Joseph Smith's "Plat of Zion"
A NewVistas Project rendering of Joseph Smith’s “Plat of Zion,” which is the basis of the communities David R. Hall is proposing in Vermont and Utah.

Vermonters plan to protest Friday against a Utah man’s proposal to turn small towns in the state into a self-sustaining community of a million people.

The protest will be from 5 to 7 p.m. at the South Royalton bridge. The town is in the area where David R. Hall is planning the first Vermont community in his NewVistas Project, based on Mormon principles of design and organization.

Randy Leavitt, of South Royalton, said the plans for the protest came about in a Facebook group called “Stop the ‘NewVista’ project,” of which he is an administrator. People exchanged comments, wanting to do something about Hall’s plans, Leavitt said.

Hall presented his plans June 2 to the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission in Woodstock.

Leavitt said the entire community is in solidarity on the issue. “It’s the large community here against one guy who doesn’t even live here,” he said.

“It’s insane that he actually thinks he will get Vermonters to go along with this,” he added.

Hall said it’s sad to see such a response. “I think it’s primarily a misunderstanding” of people thinking the development will happen right away “when it’s more long term,” he said Thursday.

Hall said his communities will be mostly in the middle of cities and blend in with existing stores and buildings.

One of the perks of building a community in South Royalton is the proximity to Vermont Law School, because it is well-known in the environmental law field, Hall said.

David R Hall
David R. Hall, the founder of the NewVistas Project. File photo by Anne Galloway/VTDigger

“Not many people understand that I am a radical environmentalist,” Hall said.

Vermont’s process of getting plans like this in place is “long and laborious,” which is a good thing, Hall said, because there will be time for plenty of dialogue. “I would be (against it) too at this stage,” he said.

Hall’s says his plan is to build about 20 NewVistas in Vermont. Each would comprise about 50 communities of 20,000 people. That would increase Vermont’s population to about 20 million. Currently it is less than 700,000.

Although Leavitt said he isn’t focusing on whether the communities would be religion-based, he said the plans are “clearly based on Joseph Smith’s original Plat of Zion.” (The birthplace of Smith, founder of the Mormon church, and a monument to him are in Sharon and Royalton.)

According to Hall, the Plat of Zion may be a starting point but isn’t what the communities will be. “They will be something new — the NewVistas,” he said.

Hall also emphasized that the communities would not be religion-based, because communities set up like that often fail. “I’m a Mormon, and I know what a disaster it would be if it were only Mormons in the community,” he said.

Leavitt said the point is not religion but the fact that it would be a development on top of a mountain where there’s currently nothing. “(Hall) says the rest of this state will be wilderness, and that’s where I live,” he said.

The project is ahead of schedule in purchasing land in Vermont, Hall said, because of a flood of requests from Vermonters and real estate agencies to sell property. “So we went ahead and spent next year’s budget,” he said.

“We’re just trying to make Vermont better, and using Vermonters to do so.”


The original plan was for Hall to spend $2 million a year purchasing property in Vermont. He has said his wealth originally came from the fossil fuel industry.

Hall said he’s sorry he can’t be at the protest Friday to help people understand his intentions. “We’re just trying to make Vermont better, and using Vermonters to do so,” he said.

Vermont isn’t the only state where Hall plans to build NewVistas communities. He has purchased homes in the Provo, Utah, neighborhoods of Spring Hill and Pleasantview and plans to build communities there as well.

Provo residents have planned protests too. R. Paul Evans, chair of the Provo City Pleasant View Neighborhood, sent out a press release June 8 about a protest there.

“David Hall does not have the support of Provo City to rezone existing residential neighborhoods for commercial venture,” Evans said in the news release.

Evans said the general feeling about the NewVistas Project in Provo is “no.”

“Hall is attempting to achieve his dream for the future, and by doing so, disregarding the dreams of the hundreds of people who live here now,” he said.

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  • Neil Johnson

    Better hope he doesn’t get the inside track like Bliddersdorf did on the windmills. Vermont needs ethics reform.

  • Annette Smith

    20 million people in Vermont? hahahahahahahah

    • Neil Johnson

      Could we afford to support 19.3 million jobless people? That might really break our state budget.

  • Joe Perry

    Leavitt said the entire community is in solidarity on the issue. “It’s the large community here against one guy who doesn’t even live here,” he said.

    Leavitt forgets that Mr. Hall OWNS the land, that some in the community are willing selling to him. At the bottom of this proposal is land usage rights. I may or may not support his plan, but it is his land to attempt to legally build on.

    “It’s insane that he actually thinks he will get Vermonters to go along with this,” he added. Wow- closed minded and just a touch of being a bigot now aren’t we? (We don’t want those kind around here)

    Want to stop this? Then form a non-profit, raise money, and get everyone to place their land into the non-profit co-op. If they can not buy the land, it will never get built. But seeing as they have spent twice as much money on land this year then planned, maybe the ENTIRE community is not against selling out to Mr. Hall and moving from these stagnant little towns.

    • So can I buy the land directly behind your house, clear cut it, and erect 50 windmills and an 3000KvA electric substation? Can I put a 20K Person capacity sewage system, with waste water egress going into your own water table?

      How about the natural gas pipeline, I think I’ll use right of way to go through your front lawn for my pipeline. I need that for the massive drilling operation and high density farming equipment to make this all work right.

      Mr. Perry, I don’t think you understand the scale of this project, or the intentions of this man at all. Before you go pointing a finger at how ‘bigoted’ the local community sounds, why don’t you educate yourself on what NewVistas actually is, and intends to do. Not only is the scale entirely wrong for the local area, it’s bad for the state, it does not create jobs for the local community. It only creates waste, and massive population density in an area that right now, is perfect the way it is.

      Furthermore, the NewVistas organization itself is extremely bigoted, just to paraphrase a quote from section 4: Each Board seat shall be occupied by a husband-wife couple comprised of a man and a woman. No one may serve as a Trustee unless his or her spouse also serves at the same time.If there is a disagreement between a husband and wife regarding their vote and both of them are present at the meeting, their vote shall be counted as an abstention.

      Please do not call my local community bigoted, we’re fighting a bigoted corporation, and we are not the intolerant ones. They are. They refuse to listen, they refuse to work with us, and they refuse to compromise.

    • Neil Johnson

      Interesting, it is the towns people that are clearly selling out Vermont. Money is clearly more important to the sellers than what is going to happen with their town or community. Interesting perspective. Nobody has to sell their property to him for any amount of money. I guess we want someone to pay a high, unrealistic price for our land and then have total control of it? Seems like this is a Vermont plan on land use. It’s all about free money. People do anything for free money.

  • You’re protesting a guy who’s apologizing he can’t make it? Any excuse for a party, huh?

  • Bruce Wilkie

    B.F. Skinner would be laughing his ass off.

  • Bill Peberdy

    David Hall: “You give up your stupidity …”

    Hall’s Vermont PR/lobbyist Kevin Ellis better love a challenge because it looks like he may have his hands full.

    Here is Hall attempting to charm and win over his Provo Utah neighbors to the New Vista project there .
    “Our whole objective is to make the standard of living for everybody much higher than it is now,” he said. “You give up your stupidity, leave suburbia and start a much higher quality life.”

  • Tom Bisson

    It’s embarrassing to see this. I believe in an open-minded and tolerant Vermont, but this protest is small minded and bigoted and this protesting are filled with self-righteousness.

    • How on earth is this protest bigoted? How can you not realize just how bigoted Hall’s vision is to begin with? He is entirely intolerant of the local community, refusing to work with them through the confines of their town plans, and their visions of the future. He is demanding the community, and the state, accepts his vision, come hell or high water. What about the language within the New Vistas Foundation surrounding the organization?

      From Section 4 of the New Vistas Foundation Bylaws:

      Each Board seat shall be occupied by a husband-wife couple comprised of a man and a woman.

      A Trustee must be a natural person at least 50 years of age, of good moral character, and not incapacitated. All determinations of qualification shall be made by the Board. No one may serve as a Trustee unless his or her spouse also serves at the same time.

      If there is a disagreement between a husband and wife regarding their vote and both of them are present at the meeting, their vote shall be counted as an abstention.

      I don’t know about you, Mr. Bisson, but it sounds like you do not seem to understand the definition of bigotry.

      • Em Drake

        This guy’s is a relgious nut. He is anti many of the freedoms vermont has held for decades. Its very easy to find the crazy stuff this guy has said in his home state. Just Google him.

        • Neil Johnson

          And the towns people sold their souls for a few dollars? They did this knowing what he was going to do and then protest? We need to look at ourselves and our own actions too. Perhaps we could learn a little from religion, clearly society is putting the highest value on money. Religions might suggest we are worshipping a man made idol.

  • everybody is laughing except the residents. it is not just the 4 towns, Hall expects to invade the entire state with 20 MILLION people, our whole state is currently near 700,000.
    it’s a hostile take over.

  • Rich Lachapelle

    Back in the early 1960s some old-time Vermonters may have observed and warned about the coming invasion of hippies from the downcountry urban areas with the intent of transforming Vermont into a left wing utopia. The old timers may have had the foresight to think that this change in demographics may lead to previously abhorrent ideas such as statewide zoning (act 250), out-of-control education spending and bans on smoking tobacco in public places. They may have even predicted the end of traditional marriage and the declaration by public officials that drug addiction is a “disease” where people who commit crimes to support their habits are routinely excused from criminal prosecution. Most folks probably thought that these things could never happen to change Vermont so dramatically from it’s place as the most Republican-voting state in the land. Most would have never thought it necessary to oppose the phenomenon by refusing to sell land to these “invaders” and by holding public protests to make them feel unwelcome. The left-leaning inhabitants who dominate Vermont today dont seem to be extending the same welcome to this new flock of folks who also wish to make a home in Vermont. Anyone else see the hypocrisy?

    • The opposition to this project is not left leaning. It transcends traditional political and cultural lines.

      • Neil Johnson

        Yes it’s the I want to have my cake and eat it group. We’ve all become so selfish.

    • Neil Johnson

      I love it, well written and accurate.

  • New Jersey is currently the most populated State at 1,210 people per square mile.
    Under this proposal Vermont would become number one at 2,169 people per square mile. Here is another great opportunity for Vermont to lead the nation.

  • Katherine Silta

    Does not matter when it happens. He needs to be sent packing. End of story.