Saturday, December 10, 2011

Buncombe County, NC Mountain Real Estate Landslide Vulnerability Report

Western North Carolina landslide photo — SouthWings flyover 2010

Western North Carolina Mountain Real Estate Caveats

Twenty-three Western North Carolina counties, including Buncombe, are on the Federal Emergency Management Agency Landslide Watch List.

The 2005 Western North Carolina Landslide Hazard Mapping Program was terminated in June 2011.

Western North Carolina mountain real estate financial considerations: Homes have no insurance protection for earth movement damage and Planned Community property owners are responsible for maintaining their landslide-prone roads.

By statute private subdivision roads, including those built on mountain slopes, do not have to meet minimum state Department of Transportation engineering criteria.

As a condition of contract, experts recommend that all mountain home sites be independently evaluated for slope stability.

The North Carolina Association of Realtors position re hazardous-land disclosure is uncertain.

USGS map showing high landslide risk for Western North Carolina
mountain counties

Western North Carolina Mountain Real Estate

Findings of fact: Western North Carolina mountain real estate is exposed to debris flows, underground landslides and slope failures.

In order to meet Stafford Act risk-reduction requirements, states and municipalities must record and quantify property threats such as flooding, landslides and earthquakes in public documents. These reports, titled Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plans, evaluate the probability and cost of future natural hazard events.

Buncombe County, NC Hazard Mitigation Plan June 2011

In its final draft report, page 27, officials acknowledge that unstable slope conditions undermine home sites throughout the county:
This assessment revealed a potential total of 7,618 parcels (214,497.75 total acres or 53.84% of total Buncombe County acreage) with a total tax value of $5,475,920,829 classified as “Unstable Area”. Of these parcels 4,054 are occupied (total tax value $4,713,992,079) and 3,564 are vacant (total tax value $761,928,750). A table showing the breakdown of parcel type, building values, improvement values and land values is included in Appendix D.

To assess vulnerability for landslides the May 28, 2010 Buncombe County tax parcels were intersected with a land stability index layer created by the State Geologist’s Office of NC DENR.  All parcels that intersect any of the unstable areas were then identified. Unstable Areas have a 100% probability of instability.

Buncombe County, North Carolina Landslide Hazard Maps—North Carolina Geological Survey

"These 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." Governor Mike Easley Press Release October 2006

Buncombe County, NC Hazardous-Land Subdivisions

Buncombe County mountain soils are classified "poorly suited" or "unsuitable" for residential site development. Homes and roads built on or above a 15% grade are considered at risk of earth movement.

The following Buncombe County, NC mountain slope subdivisions are located in Unstable Areas:

The Cliffs at High Carolina
The Cliffs at Walnut Cove  [steep-slope home sites]
Reynolds Mountain
Crest Mountain
Waightstill Mountain
The Settings of Black Mountain [ the development company has been dissolved]
Chimney Laurel
Falcon Ridge at Haw Creek
Moore's Valley
Chestnut Mountain
Poplar Ridge
Mountain Meadows
White Rock Mountain Preserve
Allen Mountain Ridge
Bartlett Mountain Views
Bear Track Estates
Gaston Mountain

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