Friday, August 28, 2009

Horseshoe Cove Landslides—Bowen Letter

On May 6, 2003 rain set off landslides in a Maggie Valley, North Carolina subdivision. This event threatened homes, damaged roads and prompted legal action.

The Horseshoe Cove residential community was designed and developed by Don Condren, Doncon, Inc.

The following is a copy of the letter that Mr. Bowen sent apprising other property owners of the situation in Horseshoe Cove.

Darell Bowen
12669 Headwater Way
Wellington, FL 33414

June 19, 2003

Dear Horseshoe Cove Property Owner:

I have now been in Maggie Valley for a week. During this time, I have personally walked the area to review the damage, met with Pam Williams to discuss the May 31st meeting and met with our attorney to discuss our future options. I have also opened a bank account of “Horseshoe Cove Property Owners” so that we have a place to collect funds and pay bills for whatever we decide to do. I rented a post office box in Maggie Valley so checks can be sent there. Pam will check the box regularly and make deposits. I will maintain the checkbook and will set up an accounting system so you can all receive regular financial statements.

Within a few days you will receive a letter from our law firm outlining a plan of action and the approximate cost of such. We are asking each property owner to send a check for $500.00 to P. O. Box 1102, Maggie Valley, N.C. 28751. If everyone sends their money in quickly we should be able to complete the groundwork necessary before pursuing parties responsible for the mess we are facing. Hopefully this can all be finished by the middle of July. (Atty. Review, engineering report, etc.). At that time we can decide whether we need to make some repairs and seek restitution from the responsible parties or we work our way through the legal system to force the responsible parties to make repairs. You will note that I keep referring to parties because I think several people may be sharing in this responsibility including the developer, engineers, Haywood County, Town of Maggie Valley, contractors and possibly even the state of N. C. Again, this will be determined during the
attorney and engineering review stage.

It is very clear to me that everyone of us in Horseshoe Cove is affected by the current situation. Our property values have declined substantially, if we sell at all. Those of you that are renting are being affected by loss of rental income. At this point, none of us can rent or sell without first disclosing this situation to any potential tenants or buyers. Currently there is a potential danger to every one of our homes. Some areas are more dangerous than others. First of all, there are two spots on Bridle Drive, one on Stirrup and one on Creekside where the road could completely wash out very easily. If the one spot on Bridle goes, so goes the sewer, which will effect all of us. Secondly, there are some boulders placed up on Stirrup that are going to come loose at some point. When they do there is the potential to damage property and injure people down on Bridle and or Creekside. Lastly, we have to get the erosion under control or the whole mountain is going to continue to deteriorate.

After the engineering report is done, we may need to consider making some of these repairs now because I don’t think they can wait very long. As for the erosion, I observed many problems on individual lots and I think each of you need to deal with these problems as quickly as possible because they are making the overall situation worse. These problems on your individual lots will not be part of any action we take regarding the common areas. Please address them individually as soon as you can.

With all of this said, I feel our case is getting stronger and stronger and I intend to do everything I can to strengthen it. I hope that each of you will do the same. We seem to have the press on our side. The local paper has done a couple of articles so far and both have been slanted in our favor. We also had WLOS (TV) in Asheville come out last week and do a segment for their six o’clock news. This piece was also very favorable toward us. Hopefully, we will be able to keep the press on it and on our side. I am also hopeful that we can make some political connections, particularly at the state level, to help us. The law firm has offered to help with this.

I hope that you all will thank Pam for all she has done and continues to do. Her role is so important because she is here year round and most of us are part time residents.

One thing that would be very helpful is for all of you to email me so I can get your email addresses. That would make communicating much easier and cheaper.

Sincerely yours,

Darell Bowen
Legal Obligation to Restore Privately-Owned Roads

In the succeeding months the property owners learned several facts: Their subdivision roads were built on unstable soils and they, as defined by the Horseshoe Cove Disclosure of Private Roadway document, owned and were responsible for these roads.

Mary Euler, the lawyer representing the property owners, advised her clients of the costs and risks of pursuing litigation. She warned them that Mr. Condren would likely declare bankruptcy if faced with a lawsuit. Practicality won: litigation was dropped. The property owners assumed responsibility and paid $300,000 to repair their roads. Future landslide-prevention measures as recommended by McGill engineers were not undertaken. Estimated costs for stabilizing 4 roads: $2,868,750-$5,230,000.

In the absence of litigation, two issues were not resolved. Mr. Condren’s failure to disclose Horseshoe Cove hazardous-land conditions and his competency as a developer.

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