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Polygamous trust sells 450 acres in Short Creek

Published March 14, 2014 3:39 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A prominent piece of desert in a polygamous community was sold Friday — for tens of thousands of dollars more than the original offer.

The 450-acre stretch of land known as Berry Knoll sold in a courtroom auction Friday to BKF Domestic Asset Protection Trust, according to United Effort Plan lawyer Jeff Shields. The final purchase price, $650,000, is considerably higher than the original offer for $580,000 — the land's appraised value.

Allen Zitting made that original offer. Three other bidders showed up Friday morning for the auction, Shields said.

The land is located near Short Creek — a name given to the cities of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz. — which is dominated by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The proposed sale of the land prompted controversy in the past when members of the church argued it was a sacred site.

Friday's sale was unopposed, Shields said.

Some of the money raised from the sale of Berry Knoll and other properties, including a centrally located city block in the community, will go toward a $5.69 million debt the UEP trust has to the state of Utah. The debt arose last year when the state loaned the trust money to help keep it running.

If the trust repays $4 million by April 1, the state will forgive the remaining debt. The recent sales of trust land are designed to reach that goal. Shields was optimistic Friday that the trust would make the April 1 deadline.

The trust also has plans to sell another piece of property known as Skunk Canyon. The property includes two parcels totaling 275 acres, mostly characterized by "undulating hilly/mountainous terrain with very limited amounts of level terrain," according to court documents. Jeff J. Barlow — an Arizona-based attorney whose father, Jethro Barlow, works for the trust — has agreed to pay $160,000 for the land. Jeff J. Barlow also previously worked for the trust as a document clerk.

— Jim Dalrymple II

Twitter: @jimmycdii