A wealthy Mormon businessman is planning to build several futuristic utopian communities around the world based on plans laid out by church founder Joseph Smith — but he doesn’t have the blessing of church leaders.
David Hall has already purchased land in Vermont, near Smith’s birthplace, where he hopes to build housing for 20,000 residents, offices, gardens, 48 basketball courts and 48 Olympic-sized swimming pools, reported the Burlington Free Press.
The environmentally friendly community, “Utopia in Vermont,” would be open to both Mormons and non-Mormons and would increase the state’s population by about 3 percent.
The 69-year-old Hall said he’s spent more than $100 million of his own money on engineering and research for the development, which a local librarian discovered companies owned by Hall were buying up land in the area, although he doesn’t expect to live long enough to see its completion.
The project remains years away from getting under way, but Hall plans to begin work sooner on a similar — but much smaller — project on land he owns near Provo, Utah.
He also hopes to build communities in Nevada, China, India and Bhutan.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Christ of Latter-day Saints expressed concerns about how Hall’s projects will affect existing relationships between Mormons and their neighbors.
Church officials said they were not affiliated with the projects in any way.
“The church makes no judgment about the scientific, environmental or social merits of the proposed developments,” said church spokesman Eric Hawkins. “However, for a variety of reasons, we are not in favor of the proposal.”
Hall isn’t surprised, because he believes LDS leaders are too conservative and too concerned about their own image.
“I’m not running for office and I’m not trying to be a missionary, so I don’t care what people think,” Hall said. “I’m looking for long-term good.”
Hall’s father, a General Electric chemist, invented a process for making synthetic diamonds used for manufacturing electronics, and he built on that technology to become an expert himself in drilling.
He sold his company, Novatek, in September to finance engineering studies for the project.
Hall said he hasn’t returned calls from Mormon officials because he doesn’t want religious leaders taking over the project, which he believes would be more attractive to non-Mormons.
“It’s all getting to one-tenth of consumption we’re at now,” Hall said. “That’s not going to go over well with LDS people, because they’re consumers. They’re free enterprise and right wing, that’s what they’re at.”