Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bartram's Walk and the Asheville/Buncombe County Landslide Hazard Map

Is it safe to build or buy property in Bartram's Walk? This is a serious question and one that can only be answered by state licensed professionals.

The Bartram's Walk project was approved in advance of the Asheville/ Buncombe County "Is it safe to build here?" hazard mapping program, so landslide risks were undetermined. The preliminary landslide map for the county shows mountain ridges and slopes at certain risk of slope failures.

Red Zones (High Geologic Hazard) are identified as cautionary, must be investigated building sites. A significant number of landslides and their deposits are displayed on the map: these areas are classified "no build" locations. The approximate location of Bartram's Walk is indicated on the map.

For additional information about the Western North Carolina landslide mapping program please visit the North Carolina Geological Survey website.

The Buncombe County Hazard Mitigation Plan (August 23, 2004) determined that the steep slopes and fragile soils of Western North Carolina put the county at high risk for landslides. This report was issued just weeks before the catastrophic 15 county slope failures of 2004. (Western North Carolina received 2 federal disaster declarations in September 2004)

Two independent surveys have been conducted for the 130 acre steep slope Bartram's Walk subdivision. Both engineering reports found "rock-slope instability" issues with the proposed development plan. For more information please see "All downhill from here," by Cecil Bothwell, Mountain Xpress, December 13, 2006 and The Friends of Town Mountain website.

It is critical to know whether the Bartram's Walk building sites are safe: geologic costs for ascertaining slope stability are affordable, generally less than $2,000. Investors should note that they will be self-insuring for all landslide property loss. Homeowners policies will not cover this expense, regardless of the cause.

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