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Tents erected in Utah polygamous town where evictions served

Published August 2, 2014 4:20 pm

Polygamy • Hildale residents have been told they can stay if they pay property taxes, fees.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Some residents in Hildale apparently served with eviction notices have pitched tents at another home in the town.

A reporter for KUTV on Friday saw about a dozen tents before residents of the home on Homestead Street closed a gate to block the view. Walls line the property.

Hildale resident Guy Timpson said he saw about 25 tents, along with mostly women and children, pitched on the property Thursday night.

Hildale and adjoining Colorado City, Ariz., are home of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Much of the homes and property in the two towns are held in a trust called the United Effort Plan.

The state of Utah seized the trust in 2005 over concerns that FLDS President Warren Jeffs was mismanaging the trust and people were at risk of losing their homes.

UEP managers charge occupants $100 a month per home and require them to pay the property taxes. An estimated 80 percent of occupants have failed to pay the fee or the taxes. Last month, 3rd District Court Judge Denise Lindberg approved a plan to begin serving eviction notices on the delinquent occupants.

Sixteen homes were served on July 26. The notices said they had three days to vacate or face a lawsuit forcing them to leave. However, the UEP's fiduciary, Bruce Wisan, has said anyone who pays what is owed, or begins to pay, can stay.

"Those guys didn't need a move," said Isaac Wyler, the trust employee who served the eviction notices. "It would be a simple deal to work out an occupancy agreement with the trust and even to work out something with the occupancy fees owed."

Timpson said the people in tents remain loyal to Jeffs, who has generally forbid his followers from speaking to or cooperating with Wisan.

People who have left or been excommunicated by Jeffs have refused to pay, too. Some have refused because they do not think the state should be managing their homes and has not sufficiently listened to their wishes. Others think the fees that have been paid Wisan and his attorneys to manage and defend the trust have been excessive.

Timpson has said he was told he owes about $3,000,

"The whole damn thing is not right," Timpson said. "We really need to get it out of Bruce Wisan's hands and get the state out of it. We got ourselves into it. Let us get ourselves out of it."

It wasn't clear Friday who is living at the house on Homestead Street where the tents have been pitched, or who is in charge. Wyler said he knew who lived there at one point, but it appears to have new occupants.

Jeffs followers have been known to move people in and out of homes without telling trust managers.

ncarlisle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @natecarlisle