Some NC homeowners could a landslide

    We typically think of landslides as a western U.S. phenomenon caused largely by earthquakes, other tectonic shifts and snow and rain.  Landslides are more rare phenomena east of the Mississippi, but not unheard of, and although they are still the result largely of natural causes, human intervention with the land could exacerbate the problem.
    In 19 counties in North Carolina, state law requires "landslide maps" to
A woman in the Maggie Valley Resort died in 2003 when her home was destroyed by dirt that slid down the adjacent mountain.

show "which areas are prone to landslides, and that will help developers, county officials, and residents decide where to safely build homes, roads, and other structures," according to Governor Mike Easley who signed the bill into law in 2005.  Legislative action was the direct result of catastrophic landslides in late 2004 that claimed lives and millions of dollars in property in the wake of major rainstorms.  A woman in the Maggie Valley Resort died in 2003 when her home was destroyed by dirt that slid down the adjacent mountain.  
    It was left to each county to write the rules on development on potentially slippery slopes.  Some developers rushed to get approval for their mountain properties before Buncombe County, which includes Asheville, passed its regulations in 2006.  In Buncombe, Jim Anthony, the visionary behind The Cliffs Communities, was one of 23 area developers who took advantage of a three-month window between passage of the slope regulations and its enactment.  His High Carolina community near Asheville, which signed up Tiger Woods to make his American design debut, has sold tens of millions of dollars of property since last year.
    According to a North Carolina blogger who has been reporting faithfully on the landslide issues at WNCSOS, some High Carolina properties are squarely in the landslide danger zone.  At 3,200 acres, The Cliffs at High Carolina is the largest development project in the county.  In December 2007, according to the WNCOS web site, The Cliffs won a lawsuit against the county regarding the density of condo and apartment complexes on steep mountain slopes.  Given The Cliffs history of development, it is not likely they will cram stack-o-shacks onto the land.  According to the Cliffs' Anthony, condominiums will be adjacent to the community's planned "wellness" center.
    Laws notwithstanding, Mother Nature still exacts her will.  Three weeks ago, rain set off another slide in Maggie Valley's Wild Acres neighborhood, taking a home with it.  The lofty Mountain Air property northwest of Asheville also suffered multi-million dollar property damage in recent weeks.  The mountains of North Carolina are a wonderful place to live and play.  But those contemplating a home there should probably ask their engineering inspectors if they have a degree in geology as well.  Or find someone who does.

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