Thursday, April 23, 2009

Macon County Fails to Disclose Landslide Real Estate Maps

Additional Macon County landslide maps can be viewed on the North Carolina Geological Survey's website.

These 2005-2006 North Carolina Geological Survey landslide-hazard maps should serve as proof that much of Macon County real estate is not safe for residential development. These studies reaffirm the conclusions of the 1998 North Carolina Department of Emergency Management hazard-assessment reports.

It isn’t generally known but Western North Carolina landslide mapping was initiated in 2000 and the effort was intensified after the disaster declarations of September 2004.

Macon County was the first of the post-disaster counties to be investigated for geologic hazards because of the 2004 Peeks Creek landslide which killed 5 people and demolished 15 homes.

The public should find it suspect that the Macon County government website has no landslide advisory hot link. County commissioners were informed in 1998 that land under their jurisdiction was landslide-prone and highly-hazardous. If the commissioners had any doubts about the 1998 risk report, the Peeks Creek catastrophe certainly should have prompted a countywide landslide-awareness program. Why has the county failed to publicize these avoidable hazards?

The answer is simple. Silence is profitable.

Since 1998 the Macon County planning board has permitted the development and sale of landslide-prone subdivision sites. By law if these home sites were located in a flood-prone area, prospective buyers would be informed of the risk and the need for flood insurance. Parties buying real estate in a state-designated landslide area are not advised of the risk, nor are they told that landslide insurance is not obtainable.

The North Carolina General Assembly is considering a bill to require hazardous-land disclosure. Whether this measure, the Safe Artificial Slope Construction Act, is passed or not should no bearing on the county meeting their long-overdue legal obligations.

The commissioners have urgent business and it is to inform the public about Macon County landslide real estate.

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