The Polygamy Blog

Commercial property, Berry Knoll to be sold by polygamous trust

First Published      Last Updated Mar 01 2014 12:20 pm

Two properties in mostly-polygamous Short Creek likely will be changing owners soon.

Block 45

The first and most significant, area known as "Block 45" in Colorado City, Ariz., was approved for sale Friday in an order issued by Judge Denise Lindberg. The entire city block, located in the center of town, will be sold to Al Yarrish, who lives in nearby Centennial Park. Yarrish plans to open a hardware store in a space that previously housed the community's only grocery store.

The land is part of the United Effort Plan, the massive trust created by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and later taken over by the state of Utah. The UEP and Yarrish have agreed to a $1.05 million sale price.

The sale is significant for several reasons. First, because the block currently includes several occupied stores that will probably now close shop. Bruce Wisan, who manages the UEP, believes Yarrish's plan to open a new store will still be an economic gain for the community, even with the smaller store closures. However, some community members disagree and believe losing the businesses will hurt the community.

Second, the sale will help the UEP pay back the state. Last year, lawmakers agree to lend the trust $5.69 million to help keep it running. The UEP has to pay that money back, but if it returns $4 million to the state by April 1 the rest of the debt will be forgiven.

Third and finally, the sale comes after a potential conflict arose over a family living on the property. The conflict involved Guy Timpson, who has been living in a building known as the Bishops Guesthouse for years. Timpson learned of the sale as it was already gaining steam and was alarmed because Wisan had previously said no occupied residential UEP property would be sold. However, Wisan's attorneys countered that they didn't know Timpson was living in the building and that he hadn't complied with his UEP occupancy agreement.

A major conflict was averted, however, when Timpson, Wisan and Yarrish all worked out an agreement allowing the family to stay in the home for up to two years. Timpson will have to pay $100 a month in rent while remaining at the home, as well as some taxes.

Timpson said at a recent hearing that he hopes to move out of the building soon and into another UEP home.

Berry Knoll

The second property that will be sold off is a 430-acre parcel known as Berry Knoll. Attorneys for the UEP on Friday filed a request to sell the property, which includes no structures or occupants.

Court documents reveal the property will be sold to Allen Zitting for $580,000, the land's appraised value. As is the case with Block 45, some of that money will be used to pay back the state.

The attempted sale of the Berry Knoll site has been controversial in the past. When Wisan tried to sell it in 2008, for example, members of the FLDS Church objected, saying it was a sacred site for their religion. Those objections managed to delay the sale and it eventually fell apart.

A judge has not yet approved the sale of Berry Knoll.

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