FLDS seem eager to fix violations at new site in Texas

Deseret Morning News/May 5, 2004
By Nancy Perkins

St. George -- Environmental investigators have found several violations at a 1,300-acre retreat for polygamists under construction in Schleicher County, Texas, near San Angelo.

David Allred, a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is the sole registered agent for YFZ Land, owner of the property.

"There are violations in their air and water programs and concerns about on-site septic systems and solid waste disposal," said Ricky Anderson, Region 8 director with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

"We visited with YFZ on the site and in our office about this, and I will say there is an eagerness on their part to come into compliance. We are still in the process of writing the report, but I think everything there can be remedied."

Anderson said YFZ operators were told to stop using a cement batch plant on the site after investigators found it was exceeding state particulate emission standards.

"The cement batch plant is specifically named as one that must have a permit prior to operation here in Texas," he said. "There was no authorization given for this plant."

Most members of the FLDS church live in Hildale, Washington County, and Colorado City, Ariz. Families are large since many FLDS men have more than one wife.

Allred, who owns a truss company in Hildale, told anyone who asked that the land would be used for a corporate hunting retreat. Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran and other residents in neighboring Eldorado, population 2,000, were told the same story.

But many people said aerial photos of the property and several three-story buildings under construction there didn't really fit with that explanation, and they were right. Last week, Allred and several other men met with Doran and Chief Deputy George Arispe to explain their intentions and clear the air.

Allred said at the meeting that no more than five buildings are planned for the property and around 200 of the most faithful followers to FLDS president Warren Jeffs would live there. Children will be home-schooled, and families will be self-sufficient, he said.

"We had a good meeting," said Arispe. "We want to have a good relationship with these people. We'll be dealing with them for several years to come here, I guess."

Arispe said he and the sheriff plan to visit Washington County in mid-May with the hope of developing a better understanding of the FLDS community and its culture. Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith said his visit to Eldorado last week helped residents there begin to understand their new neighbors.

"They had heard some really wild stories about polygamists, and I told them I'd never known them to have a propensity for violence," Smith said. "Just look at their history. That's a pretty good indication of what's to come."

According to Scott Sutton, chief tax appraiser for Schleicher County, said the three buildings could generate nearly $16,000 in tax revenue for the four countywide taxing entities.

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