When selling real estate in the then-booming Lake Lure market a decade ago, the long time residents told me, “There’s a reason that we don’t live on the mountain tops.”
But the second home developers never heeded their warning. Steep mountain lots were going for premium prices. Cut the trees for the view; cut roads with almost impossible curves to navigate. Later the substandard roads would not meet state standards, but also did not allow fire trucks to negotiate their way to some of the mountain top homes and lots.
Some lots didn’t have water; some lots didn’t have road access; some were on over-steep lots overlooking the lake. And no one told the second home buyers who were helicoptered in about the possibility of mudslides. Enjoy living riverside. Keep that waterfall private on your lot. There’s a spring in that low spot on your property. The second home buyers counted on the future opportunity to flip their lot / home for a hefty profit. Greed overtook common sense.
The very landscape they came to enjoy was fast disappearing. Large chunks of the mountain were clear cut. Homes were built by inexperienced builders. Now lights burned on the mountain at night. Agents multiplied and the competition for buyers was keen. Tell them anything; get their signatures on a contract.
Recently, mudslides in western North Carolina killed five people. Numerous homes were damaged in torrential rains that caused floods, mudslides, closed roads, and fallen trees with loss of power.
In 2004, when mudslides killed five people in Macon County, the state ordered a geological survey to identify dangerous slopes in the western-most counties of the state. The Republicans cut funding for the project when they took power in 2011. The opponents of the mapping project included developers who wanted to build on the sides of mountains and didn’t want to scare away prospective buyers. 1
Most regulations and programs were enacted for good reason. While no one can blame just the developers, legislators, buyers or agents, who will step up to help avoid the ravages of Mother Nature in the future?