Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Geologic Hazards Noted in Cliffs at High Carolina Property Report

Landslide Stability Index Map: Buncombe County, North Carolina.

This North Carolina Geological Survey risk-determinate map ( one of three studies) shows that The Cliffs at High Carolina development site is located in a highly hazardous zone. Geologists caution that construction of homes and roads in these areas will likely yield landslides.

Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act

As required by federal law under the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act The Cliffs Communities, Inc., developer of The Cliffs at High Carolina, has prepared client Property Reports to disclose the risks of buying land in this undeveloped subdivision. The Cliffs at High Carolina Property Report reveals some but not all geologic hazards in the 3,200 acre mountain tract.

Cliffs at High Carolina Engineering Report for Phase 1

The Cliffs at High Carolina Property Report states that all of the ninety-nine (99) single-family building lots offered for sale on November 8, 2008 were evaluated by S&ME, Inc., a Raleigh-based engineering firm, for the possible presence of colluvium: an unstable, landslide-triggering soil base.

The High Carolina Property Report Hazards section states

The term “colluvium” is used to describe a condition where a lot possesses loose rock and soils, evidencing their deposit in the past due to erosion and movement from an uphill position, and having a potential for lateral movement both from man-made development and construction activities, as well as from natural conditions such as might be caused by heavy rains. In its written evaluation to the developer dated August 15, 2008, S&ME reported that it had inspected each lot in this Property Report and observed that in some lots there existed some potentially unstable areas in steep portions thereof or at their outer boundaries, but well outside of the identified building area. Some lots were identified as having shallow draws or swales, also well outside a building area, that could potentially have a presence of some colluvium. With respect to all lots, however, S&ME reported that it was its opinion that “residential structures can be suitably supported at the lots,” and found that the identified building area for each lot was suitable as a home site.
Mountain Air Resort Landslide

It is not known whether S&ME, Inc. advised The Cliffs Communities, Inc. that they were defendants in the Hemlock Bluff Villas Condominium Association, Inc. vs. Mountain Air Development Corporation et al Complaint. (06-CVS-51) According to court documents S&ME, Inc. was engaged by the Mountain Air Development Corporation to provide geotechnical engineering services and site preparation, construction planning, and design services for Building C of Hemlock Bluff and an abutting golf course hole in Mountain Air Resort. Colluvium soils were cited as a contributing factor to the slope's collapse. For addition information please see "Multi-Million Dollar Landslide Property Loss in Mountain Air."

The Cliffs at High Carolina Property Report does not address the critical question of whether other locations in the 3,200 acre tract have been evaluated for the presence of colluvium or other unsuitable construction-site soils. This is an important financial concern for the soon-to-be formed property owners' association: this group will assume all costs for road maintenance and repairs.

For unbiased information concerning Western North Carolina landslide hazards, please contact the North Carolina Geological Survey.

Copies of the Cliffs at High Carolina Property Report, Subdivision ID: 32367, are available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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