Residents of Hildale and Colorado City will have to pay a $100 monthly fee to cover costs of subdividing the two towns – or face eviction.
In a letter distributed to residents, the fiduciary overseeing the United Effort Plan (UEP) Trust says the fee is necessary because city officials are “demanding that the trust make expensive infrastructure improvements.”
City officials say new water lines and fire hydrants are needed to support population growth likely to result as the communal land trust is subdivided and turned into private property.
The cities rejected fiduciary Bruce R. Wisan’s request that they pay for the improvements, saying such costs are routinely carried by property developers. Wisan previously estimated those costs could approach $1 million.
The two towns have about 700 households, which means the fee will raise $70,000 a month.
The UEP Trust holds virtually all property in the twin towns, which straddle the borders of Utah and Arizona and are the home base of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The sect set up the trust decades ago to help support polygamous families.
Wisan wants to dismantle the trust and turn tenants into homeowners.
But survey costs, coupled with city requirements, are proving expensive. And Wisan maintains the cities are unfairly slowing the process.
“From the beginning, the trust has encountered noncooperation, delay, and, in some cases, outright obstruction from the city governments,” his letter reads.
Prior to the court takeover, FLDS residents worked cooperatively to put in and to pay for infrastructure.
“The cities are doing what they legally need to do for subdivisions,” said Hildale Mayor David Zitting. “They think it should zip right through . . . and it’s taking time to do it. It’s something that has never happened in the cities. It’s been one landowner.”
Marvin Wyler, a former FLDS member who has lived in the community since 1965, said the fee will be a hardship for some.
“I hate to see it happen, but if it has to, we’ll bear it,” Wyler said. “I just hope they’re doing the right thing.”
In addition to the fee, Wisan is asking each household to fill out an occupancy agreement that includes the name of a “responsible party.”
“There may well be some problems, and I’m prepared to deal with it in the same way I’ve dealt with property taxes,” he said, “and that is: select leaders and if they don’t conform, they may well forfeit the opportunity to be living on UEP property.”