Thursday, October 2, 2008

Warning: Soil Survey Finds Madison County Slopes Unstable

Experts have determined that the soil composition in Madison County, North Carolina is “unsuitable” or “poorly suitable” for most mountain slope residential development. Their studies conclude that construction sites throughout the mapped area are imperiled by environmental threats and geological faults. This important consumer information is not recorded on plats or disclosed on real estate contracts but can be accessed on the Madison County Soil Survey website.

The 2008 Madison County Soil Survey states the following on page 476:

In order to effectively evaluate soils for engineering or construction purposes, the factors which limit a soil’s use must be considered. In Madison County, there are a number of soil-site characteristics which pose engineering difficulties. Among the most important are slope, erodibility, instability (poor bearing strength or shear strength), shrink-swell potential, stoniness, depth to bedrock, freeze-thaw cycle, hydrology, and organic matter content....Some soils may be unsuitable for development because of the slope.
To date Madison County Commissioners and their planning board have not acknowledged the region’s significant geological impediments. Regulations are non-existent and building permits are granted to all petitioners.

The state of North Carolina does not recognize, govern or disclose Western North Carolina’s significant land hazards. These legislative failures and lack of disclosures are exposing prospective buyers and future homeowners’ associations to costly uninsurable losses and diminished real estate values.

Protection and Relief Available Only under Federal Law

Most of the business entities developing and selling land in the county are subject to federal law under the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act and they are required to register their subdivision plans with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The law stipulates that non-exempt developers provide complete disclosure of land hazards in their subdivision Property Reports. These hazards would include unstable soils, flooding and landslides.

HUD’s North Carolina Subdivision website reveals that only two Madison County developers, The Preserve at Wolf Laurel and Wolf Laurel have registered their subdivisions. Developers doing business in the county who have not registered their Subdivisions are:
Preserve at Little Pine
French Broad Crossing
Scenic Wolf Resort
Developers often fail to comply with the rules and regulations mandated by federal law under the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act. HUD advises interested parties that:
It has always been the law that if the developer has an obligation to register with the Interstate Land Sales Division, the developer or sales agent must give the buyer a copy of the current property report before the buyer signs a contract. Otherwise, the buyer has up to 2 years to cancel the contract and get his or her money back. That fact must also be clearly set forth in all contracts. You may have the right to void the contract if the subdivision has not been registered with HUD or you were not given a property report.

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