Nicole Antal, a 30-year-old librarian in Sharon, Vermont, was putting together a town report in late January when she stumbled upon a series of odd land purchases: In just three months, a Utah-based foundation had quietly bought more than 900 acres of nearby farmland, an area larger than Central Park. All of the land was either adjacent or close to the birthplace and memorial of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church. “I’ve always loved mysteries,” says Antal. “And this seemed like a good one.”That evening, when Antal got home to the 450-square-foot house she’s building with her husband, she strapped on a headlamp. The house doesn’t yet have electricity and she needed to prepare dinner for her 5-year-old son, Robin. She also wanted to poke around online. Standing next to her wood-burning stove, Antal flipped open her precharged laptop and Googled the name of the Utah organization: NewVistas. “This strange website popped up,” she says. “It had all these architectural models with fake people walking around. I didn’t know what to think.”NewVistas, Antal soon discovered, was started by a wealthy Mormon engineer named David Hall, who wants to build sustainable, high-tech, high-density communities all across the globe. From the looks of things, he hoped to build one right in her backyard, in rural Vermont.
A Mormon Tycoon Wants to Build Joseph Smith’s Mega-Utopia in Vermont