Scandal on the Mormon Ranch

Daniels, Gene/ Wikimedia Commons
Daniels, Gene/ Wikimedia Commons

In case you haven’t heard, the LDS Church is currently involved in a rather large land development project in Florida. According to a recent report by The Associated Press, the plan is as such:

Over the next six decades, the plan being developed by the Mormon church-owned Deseret Ranch promises to convert the largest undeveloped section of metro Orlando into more than a dozen bustling neighborhoods. In the process, it would radically reshape Osceola County, a suburb that has been transitioning from cowboy culture into a major destination for Puerto Ricans moving to the mainland.

This plan has, of course, caused quite a bit of controversy. According to that same AP Report, some worry that the housing development could lead to severe environmental damage. There are also concerns, according to AP, that “Osceola County (the neighboring suburb) has been doing the bidding of Deseret Ranch.” Apparently, locals are worried that the development is radically reshaping the area without any pushback or “checks and balances.” 

Not everyone’s bummed out about it though. AP also reports that other environmentalists actually welcome the development because it’s better to do it all in one big move (development, that is) than to slowly pick away at the land “for piecemeal development.”

Check out the rest of the AP report, which came out yesterday, over at The Deseret News.

I am, of course, burying the lede, because the real story here is that WE OWN AN OBSCENE AMOUNT OF FLORIDA.

As Paul Rolly over at the Trib reported last July, the for-profit wing of The Church in charge of this endeavor, Deseret Ranches, has been around in Florida since 1950. It started at a modest 54,000 acres (is that actually modest? I don’t really know) and eventually blossomed into  312,000 acres. In 2013, that Deseret Ranches expanded to 672,834 acres overall. Apparently Deseret Ranches is the world’s largest beef ranch. We Mormons own more beef than anyone else in the world. Go figure. 

According to a report from Reuters at the time of the 2013 expansion, Deseret Ranches has also made the LDS Church the “largest private landowner in Florida.” 

I’m just compiling all of this because no matter how one feels about it, or the Church’s business ventures in general, this is all rather peculiar, and we like peculiar things here. I mean, WE OWN A TON OF FLORIDA. That’s a little weird.

Consider this headline from RT from back in 2013 when the big expansion happened:

Mormon Church purchases 2% of the state of Florida for half a billion dollars 

Two percent! Two percent of Florida is now owned by us. And by us, I really mean the Church, since I’m assuming this has nothing to do with my tithing money (or at least hoping it doesn’t). Forget Missouri, where we don’t own nearly as much land and there’s no beach-front property. When things get rough we should all just move to Florida.

I remember when kids in school used to give me a hard time about The Church owning Coca-Cola and stuff, and I wish I’d known I could have tossed this little statistic around. “No, we don’t own Coke, but we do own a huge chunk of Florida.”

I’m sure that would have put their strange conspiracy theories to rest.

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