Thursday, May 14, 2009

Franklin Chamber of Commerce Fails to Disclose Macon County Landslide Real Estate Maps

One of a series of Macon County landslide hazard maps and a view of one of the fifteen homes destroyed by the September 2004 Peeks Creek landslide.

For additional information re Western North Carolina and Macon County landslides please contact the North Carolina Geological Survey.

Macon County Landslide Real Estate Maps

Visitors to the Franklin Chamber of Commerce website will find guides to gem mines, hiking trails, waterfalls and links to more than 30-member realty/developer websites but viewers will find no reference to the Macon County landslide real estate maps.

Landslide Findings Hurricane Recovery Act 2005

In February 2005 North Carolina lawmakers warned Western North Carolina residents to expect future catastrophic landslide events.
Hurricanes Frances and Ivan wrought havoc upon Western North Carolina impacting the region on a scale not experienced before in that area of the State. The President issued two federal disaster declarations for the Western Region of the State. During Hurricane Ivan, the community of Peeks Creek was devastated by a debris flow triggered by heavy rains. The debris flow traveled speeds as great as 33 miles per hour for two and a quarter miles from the top of Fishhawk mountain. Five persons were killed and 15 homes destroyed by the flow that was estimated to be several hundred feet wide and up to 40 feet high. Other communities that were particularly hard hit by landslides include the Starnes Creek area in Buncombe County, the Little Pine area in Madison County, the White Laurel community in Watauga County, and the Bear Rock Estates in Henderson County. Further...people could not know the landslide risks associated with their housing location because such maps are not readily available. The state needs to...prepare landslide mapping for the region so that homes may be built in safe areas.
Western North Carolina Landslides Press Release 2006

Governor Mike Easley issued a press release on October 4, 2006 to advise the residents of Western North Carolina that the first of 19 landslide-identification maps had been completed. The announcement was of special concern to the residents of Macon County because the Peeks Creek landslide killed 5 people and destroyed 15 homes.

In his statement Governor Easley stressed the importance of the safety maps and landslide real estate disclosure by saying:
These (Macon County) maps will show which areas are prone to landslides and that will help developers, county officials and residents decide where to safely build homes, roads and other structures.
Legal Matters

The Franklin Chamber of Commerce is providing a publicly trusted marketplace for their Realty members. These members are failing to advise their clients of landslide hazards but there is no excuse for the Franklin Chamber to follow their example.

What are the Franklin Chamber and their Realtor Members Hiding?

As noted there are safety factors: six Western North Carolina homeowners have been killed by landslides. They are also concealing the financial costs of owning landslide real estate. Unlike other natural perils such as flooding, earthquakes and wildfires, there is no insurance protection for homeowners' landslide property damage.

In addition to the absence of insurance there is another financial consideration. It is called landslide liability. Should a lot slide or exhibit signs of slope failure the property owner is responsible for stabilizing his land. The public may think this is a rare or unusual circumstance but the following examples show that it is commonplace.

In January 2009 rain set off landslides in two Maggie Valley subdivisions. The McAloon landslide resulted in the total destruction of a neighbor's home. Legal issues for the McAloons have not been resolved but the county is holding the McAloons responsible for repairing their failed slope. Costs for stabilizing the Moody landslide $400,000.

As a member of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce the Franklin Chamber must meet established disclosure standards.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Statement:
Welcome to Chamber Of, your gateway to a world of resources. Our goal is to help keep you informed as a savvy and knowledgeable consumer.

Our web site contains information for consumers regarding what to look for to avoid being a victim of fraud, how to avoid problems and make better buying decisions.
Landslide maps are invaluable real estate risk-measurement guides so the question is why are these resources missing from the Franklin Chamber website?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have obtained a the property report for Cielo Falls and there is no mention of landslide risk in the report. In another post you have language you say should be included, do you mean legally or just morally. USP Blue Ridge is trying to build something in Richmond that butts up against the Chesapeake Bay act and I would love to show a lack of concern for regulation on their part. Could you provide me info on what they are required legally to say in the property report? thanks Heather Dinkin,