Landslide maps tell of danger locations-John Becker Bald Head
Living in the lovely mountains of Franklin, NC, is a dream come true for many people from around the globe. However, mountain living can have some dangers that can be life threatening to say the least. One such danger is that of LANDSLIDES. A few years ago there was a tragedy here in Franklin NC at PEEKS CREEK that claimed 5 lives and destroyed millions of dollars of property and homes.
As a result of this tragic event, a committee called “Slope Development Strategies” was formed to investigate just what actually determines a “dangerous” slope. As a member of this committee, my eyes have been opened wide to the possible landslide dangers that can exist on some slopes in Macon County. State geologist Rick Wooten who helped prepare Macon County’s Landslide Hazard Maps was invited by the committee to teach about the map’s function and how to better understand the data provided therein. “There are landslide hazards in Macon County,” said Wooten, adding that the laws of gravity apply here just as anywhere else. Since one of the issues the committee is grappling with is how to determine what constitutes a steep slope, Mr. Wooten shared a chart illustrating landslide frequency versus slope. Colin McCandless of the Franklin Press wrote a great article about this meeting here.
Macon County NC Workgroup for Slope Development Strategies
Slope Regulations FAQ
Why does Macon County need steep slope regulations now?
While landslides have been happening in our mountains for eons, they have primarily occurred on unmodified slopes due to natural forces. Traditionally, people did not build on or disturb areas with steep slopes. However, in the last few decades development in steeper areas has increased tremendously. Modified slopes are inherently more prone to landslides than natural slopes. According to a study by the Asheville Citizen-Times, over the last decade, 534 WNC landslides and debris flows have killed six people and destroyed 40 buildings. Over the last 20 years, the study found, slides accounted for $13.4 million in property damage. To protect lives and property and to maintain the character of the mountains that’s central to our regional identity and the basis of our economic development, we must enact and enforce regulations that acknowledge the risks of development on steep slopes.
How do we know which slopes represent the greatest risks?
We are fortunate that the North Carolina Geological Survey made Macon County the first in the state to get maps that identify slopes and soils that are prone to failure and deserve sensitive treatment.
What sort of rules are we talking about?
Only slopes 30% and over would be regulated. Those between 30% and 40% could hopefully be handled by county staff. Those 40% and greater would require plans and engineering by a licensed professional to: 1) Provide for stability for cut and fill slopes; 2) Provide for stable fill by requiring standards for fill placement; and 3) Avoid areas with the greatest potential of debris flow damage by having a setback from those areas deemed downslope hazard areas on the maps.
Will these regulations increase the cost of construction?
Yes, construction costs will rise for those sites covered by the regulations compared to building without proper precautions. But costs for preventing the collapse of buildings and the erosion of scenic mountainsides are small in comparison with the costs of cleaning up after slides or just attempting to maintain improperly constructed slopes. And, of course, it’s impossible to put a price on lives and livelihoods lost through poor planning.
How much will the new rules add to the costs of development?
Expenses will vary from site to site. Several experts have suggested that proper engineering and site preparation might add about $8,000 to the cost of a typical home built on a 40% slope.
Won’t these regulations hurt the local economy?
WNC counties, such as Haywood and Jackson, which have adopted slope regulations, continue to out perform Macon County in the number of new housing starts since adopting those regulations.
Will these rules stop development on steep slopes?
No, it will only require that development be done in a way that minimizes the risk of slope failure.
The Slope Development Group would like your input on the Safe Slope Development Ordinance Click Here
Thank you for your neighborly and kind input and ideas.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE SLOPE DEVELOPMENT GO HERE
Macon County NC Workgroup for Slope Development Strategies – Safe Slope Development Ordinance – Landslide Hazard Maps Macon County NC
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Greater Town Blog: Safe Slope Ordinance Development
Active Rain Blog: Safe Slope Ordinance Development
Franklin NC Real Estate – Macon County NC- Otto,NC
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