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Anti-NewVistas Group Buys Parcel



Valley News Staff Writer
Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sharon — A nonprofit group opposed to the NewVistas proposal in the White River Valley announced on Sunday it has purchased a 218-acre wooded parcel near the four corners of Sharon, Strafford, Royalton and Tunbridge.

The Alliance for Vermont Communities has purchased the parcel off Nutting Road from Rosamond Ashley, working through her guardian, according to Michael Sacca, a Tunbridge resident and the president of the nonprofit group. About 60 percent of the parcel is in Sharon, the rest in Strafford, and the land will include both recreational trails and have some “periodic timber revenue,” he said.

“We’re looking to make this both a recreational parcel and also part of the working landscape,” he said Sunday evening. “That is important to us.” The group intends to call the parcel the Ashley Community Forest, and will hold community meetings about its use.

The alliance was formed after Utah engineer David Hall began buying land near the birthplace of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith in a bid to build a 5,000-acre community known as NewVistas, which he said could draw up to 20,000 people.

Sacca said Hall had also made a bid for the Ashley land, which is east of the Smith birthplace and next to the 382-acre Manning farm, which the alliance and the Upper Valley Land Trust helped conserve.

The Ashley land sale was for $375,000, Sacca said, and the Vermont Land Trust helped provide bridge financing for the project.

Elise Annes, VLT’s vice president for community relations, said the land trust is “absolutely in support of the community’s decision to protect land that is important to them” and help maintain “rural character” and “community vitality.”

Hall has acquired about 1,500 acres for his NewVistas vision, which he said could be decades in the making. The Alliance for Vermont Communities announced its purchase of the Ashley parcel Sunday at a bike-riding fundraiser it held at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds.

News staff writer John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com