Natalie Gochnour is reminding herself lately of a deer in a Far Side cartoon. It's a classic by Gary Larson: two deer talking, one with a target on his chest. Caption: "Bummer of a birthmark, Hal."

Gochnour, a senior analyst with the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget, feels like she's wearing that target, she told a panel of growth experts and bankers Tuesday, all because of data collected for purposes of planning Utah's growth into coming decades.Homebuilder Ellis Ivory, of Ivory Homes, on Tuesday criticized parts of the research on which Gochnour and nearly a dozen state employees have spent months working.

Ivory, who has been a member of the enormous growth-planning partnership headed by Envision Utah, has privately disagreed with some of the methods used to gather research that is the backbone of Envision Utah's work to date.

Although a handful of people in the community have given input to the way Envision Utah is doing its work -- considered to be the most comprehensive community effort in history to plan for the state's growth -- Ivory has been the most adamant and vocal.

Later in the day, Ivory, who builds more homes than anyone else in Utah, met with Gov. Mike Leavitt. The two talked specifically about the research and philosophically about growth, planning and state direction, Leavitt said Wednesday.

"The kind of debate Ellis is raising is exactly what I'm hoping Envision Utah will produce," Leavitt said. "This will not be a totally harmonious process."

Robert Grow, head of Envision Utah and president of Geneva Steel, welcomes diverse points of view but says the modeling is the most sophisticated anywhere. "There is a real science to these kinds of numbers, and I think (the research team) is taking the right approach and has the right kind of people involved."

In meetings with the Deseret News Tuesday, Brad Barber, who is in charge of research for the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget, referred to Ivory's concerns and said, "We are going to get to the bottom of this."

On Tuesday, Ivory told a forum of 35 bankers and lenders gathered for Federal Reserve Bank meetings that Envision Utah is "off-track." He said the process has been fraught with "misstatements and poor facts" that he said were designed to direct the public toward a pre-determined choice of a "scenario" for planning growth.

Gochnour also talked to the group about the "scenarios" -- four visions for how Utah towns and neighborhoods might develop in the next 20 years, when it is estimated there will be 1 million more people along the Wasatch Front. She talked about the research, time and methods used to calculate the figures.

The Utah Legislature has funded something called quality growth efficiency tools -- the most modern equipment available to do these kinds of calculations.

"I do think it's wrong to characterize this as a bill of goods," she said.

In the Federal Reserve meeting, Ivory publicly proclaimed himself an opponent to the partnership's efforts and to the Quality Growth Act of 1999, Republican legislation to be introduced this session that is supported by the governor and legislative leadership.

"The ugly nose of state planning is crawling under the tent of the housing industry . . . and that will never fly in Utah," Ivory said. "This act will not pass in the state it's in -- it's state federalism and it's not going to fly."

Ivory, who is the only person to convey criticism of the Envision Utah process to the governor, is part of a comprehensive discussion that must take place to move efforts forward, Leavitt said.

"I thought he raised some legitimate points and I've asked (the Office of Planning and Budget) to go back and see if there are ways to improve the data," Leavitt said.

There will be different perspectives about how the state should manage growth, different ideas about the state's role in doing so, comments and feedback about the methods by which research is gathered, Leavitt said.

It's a huge effort to calculate needs, costs, uses of air, water, land and roads for the future 20 years, Leavitt said. Forecasting the future is not an exact science. The best you can do, he said, is to proceed and recognize the limits of the models that are established.

"You do have to start with good data -- and if confidence in that data isn't shared, it's going to be a problem," he said. But Ivory is the only person to raise questions to this degree, Leavitt said.

His staff is open to suggestions and has responded to comments throughout the process, he said.

Thayne Robson, director of the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research, has raised some questions about projections. "Ellis makes me a little nervous when he starts talking about the lack of data," Robson told the panel Tuesday.

Jim Clark, planning director for American Stores and an Envision Utah partner, said there's no way to predict an exact reality about how Utah will look in 20 or 50 years.

"It's clear there will be some differences in acceptance of the modeling techniques, but I am in full support of the process."

On Monday, Gochnour's office released an executive summary of the analysis, which included details about how planners reached their conclusions.

Six state agencies, seven special districts, 15 cities or towns, all the major utilities and three engineering firms contributed to the data.