Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Expensive Landslide Repairs...Asheville, North Carolina

The driveway that leads to Mark McClure’s house above Beaverdam Valley is the “steepest piece of paved road” he has ever seen. The UNC Asheville math professor bought the house overlooking one of the city’s most bucolic areas in 2001 and quickly settled in. But McClure, 42, soon began to notice something strange about the structure perched at more than 2,500 feet above sea level. “My deck started moving, and then my utility lines broke,” he said. “I woke up one morning, and there was water just pouring out of the top of my driveway from a broken line.”The experience gave McClure second thoughts about homes on steep mountain slopes — an issue the Asheville City Council takes up tonight.
He said he’s a little embarrassed at how much the problem cost him — about $60,000 after getting some money back from the builder, building a retaining wall and buying the lot below him for access. “Obviously, the elevation is not the issue. Ultimately, the steepness of the slope is the issue that causes it,” he said.

"Asheville Faces Slope Law Choice " Asheville Citizen -Times 4/24/07
Complete article can be viewed on

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Town Mountain Landslide, Asheville, North Carolina

Jerry Birdwell, a member of the Executive Committee of Friends of Town Mountain, discusses landslides and the proposed steep slope subdivision called Town Mountain Cove in an e-mail to Cecil Bothwell, reporter for the Xpress.

"It is baffling to me why Buncombe County officials have so far shown such indifference to potential hazards [posed by] steep-slope, high-density development in this county in view of multiple landslides in Western North Carolina, at least one of which resulted in the loss of life...

..."As my home was under construction, the owner/builder (from out of state) on the lot next to me ordered a major clear-cut for a view and home site. After lengthy blasting and cuts and filling, the house was completed. He then sold it three years later."

"Within the first week after the new owners took possession, during a rainy week, cracks began to show up in the fill areas. As rains increased, the fill land began to slide, increasing as the rain increased. My new neighbors, in fear for their lives, moved into a hotel during evaluation of the safety of the house. 'Fortunately,' only one corner of the foundation moved. Ultimately, a $130,000 engineered retaining wall stabilized the house, but the garage and parking area were lost. Rocks and debris covered two streets and a multi-acre building site below. Today, the slide-area scar can be seen from the Haw Creek overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway."

Birdwell's neighbor, who declined to be named in print, confirmed the details of the story. Birdwell's own building contractor, he noted, "was super-cautious. We did very little clearing and, in fact, may have left trees too close to the house." But clear-cutting next door, he noted, "opened up a wind tunnel, and we have lost 13 or more 75- to 100-year-old trees that have been blown down.
Original article in Mountain Xpress