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/24-7PressRelease/ - MARS HILL, NC, October 13, 2007 - In September 2004 the western counties of North Carolina were in a state of emergency...the President issued 2 federal disaster declarations and provided $72 million in aid.
Since last month marked the third anniversary of the rain induced landslide disasters, it is time to look at what measures the state has taken to forewarn the public of the dangers of investing in Western North Carolina's high risk real estate.
In February 2005 the North Carolina General Assembly recognized that landslides posed a serious but unidentified threat. They authorized funds ($1.3 million) for a multi-county "Is it Safe to Build Here" landslide mapping program. To date this study has provided only one series of landslide maps. When the Macon County landslide maps were completed in October 2006 Governor Mike Easley said, "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."
The public has made substantial investments in Western North Carolina mountain property and at no time have their interests been protected by disclosure of the landslide mapping program, or disclosure of the fact that there is no insurance to protect against landslide property damage. It should be noted that the Macon County color coded landslide maps show hundreds of homes located in red zones, areas deemed high risk.
Over the past several months the state has acted to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive business practices.
Governor Easley signed a bill in late August restricting the ability of the mortgage industry to prey on unwary borrowers. The Governor said during the legislative signing, "I should have watched this closer; all of us should have on the state level. We should have looked at our laws closer and made some changes."
The Office of the Attorney General intervened this summer to stop the unfair real estate practices of a Spruce Pine developer. Attorney General Roy Cooper stated in his Village of Penland complaint that "These developers squandered more than a $100 million in financing leaving consumers stuck with property that isn't worth what they owe on it."
The 15 county catastrophic slope failures of 2004 should have been a wake up call for public hazard disclosure. Instead the landslide mapping program provided an expansive window of opportunity and an excuse for the real estate industry to sell unidentified, "What we don't know, we don't have to disclose," hazardous land.
Perhaps those responsible for public safety and disclosure of material facts should review the 1998 North Carolina Department of Emergency Management report which found that all 21 western counties were at severe risk for the dangers of landslides.
For more information about WNC landslide property damage please visit
Carolina Concerns is a Western North Carolina landslide
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