Monday, August 30, 2010

Haywood County Mountain Real Estate: McAloon Landslide

Haywood County Mountain Real Estate: Hazardous-Land Disclosure

Before signing an offer to purchase Haywood County mountain real estate, interested parties should consider that Haywood County is one of twenty-one Western North Carolina counties classified landslide-hazardous by federal officials.

Haywood County Real Estate Landslide Risk Map

Haywood County building sites are classified unstable because of the region's geologic features and water-reactive soils. When heavy rains are forecast, the National Weather Service issues Western North Carolina bulletins advising that landslides and slope failures can be expected.

Unpublished 2005 Haywood County Stability Index Hazard Map.
Risk models show that 49% of Haywood County land is unstable.

Since landslide insurance is not available for Western North Carolina real property, purchasers should condition their contracts on professional engineering studies. A note of caution: specific home site stability evaluations do nothing to protect against up-slope hazardous-land events.

McAloon Landslide

Photographs of the Donin home on 93 Wildcat Run Road before and after the January 7, 2009 landslide— Asheville Citizen-Times

On January 7, 2009 a section of Ed and Pamela McAloons' Wild Acres lot slipped down its steep embankment and crushed the house below. The property owners, Bruce and Lorraine Donin, survived the swift-moving landslide.

This is the second tragedy in the Wild Acres subdivision. Trish Jones was killed in December 2003 when a mountain slope collapsed, destroying her home. The Jones’ landslide was caused by saturated soils from a fractured water main. Marc Pruett, head of the Haywood County erosion control department, said that the January 2009 McAloon slope failure was triggered by rain on highly unstable soils.

Mr. Pruett told Vicki Hyatt, editor of The Mountaineer, that there have been landslides above and below the Donin home site as well as across the top of the mountain in the Villages of Plott Creek development. The slope failures were triggered when rain soaked unstable soils known as Tuckasegee-Cullasaja complex, ( TvE). The Wild Acres mountain subdivision along with others in Maggie Valley share this highly reactive, landslide-prone soil composition.

The McAloon Home Site

When the McAloons purchased their lot they received no warning that the land for their home site was unstable.

Prior to building their home, the couple hired a private engineering firm to evaluate slope stability. The engineering report by Alpha Environmental Sciences, Inc. found that two on-site slopes were problematic and subject to failure.

During various construction phases from 2006 thru 2007 the McAloons were advised by county erosion control personnel that, “We have concerns about the slope just past your home. It appears to be exhibiting signs of failure. Please have you plan designer, or another qualified person have a look at it.” At the time of the final erosion control inspection in January 2007 county officials noted that the McAloons had not repaired the slope. They wrote another recommendation advising the property owners to seek professional advice. The McAloon soil erosion control report was closed and forgotten until January 7, 2009.

It is not known whether the Donins took action against the McAloons for their property loss. Haywood County required the McAloons to repair their unstable slope.

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