Monday, March 24, 2008

Laurelmor and Safe Slope Building Sites

Landslide Map of Watauga County compliments of the North Carolina Geological Survey

Is it safe to build in Laurelmor?

This Ginn Resort Property, a 6000 plus acre mountain residential community, was approved in 2006 before its location could be mapped for landslide hazards. The federal Western North Carolina mapping program was mandated after the region was devastated by landslides in September 2004.

Watauga County, the primary location of Laurelmor, was identified in 2006 to be at extreme risk for future landslides. Please see "Watauga Tops Landslide List."

Considering the evidence of slope failures throughout the county, Laurelmor should have been inventoried for landslides and other slope instability factors before the developer received his permit. But since the state has no regulations regarding the development of hazardous land, this project was approved.

The Laurelmor web-site provides a site plan but it does not show the resort's location on the Watauga County landslide maps. Finalized hazard maps were released in January 2008.

Laurelmor/Ginn provides a list of featured home builders for their clients. These individuals are not qualified to assess the safety and stability of the building sites. Anyone buying mountain slope property in Laurelmor should visit the North Carolina Geological Survey and take a serious look at the Watauga County landslide maps. North Carolina geologists warn that all slope property should be investigated for landslide probability. The costs for a professional site specific study are reasonable, generally less than $2,000. Caveat: Slope stability tests should only be performed by independent state licensed geologists and engineers.

Laurelmor investors should note that they will be self-insuring for all landslide property loss. Homeowner policies will not cover this peril, regardless of the cause.

No comments: