Policy Brief: Steep Slopes

Today the Asheville Citizen-Times ran an article focusing on state Rep. Bruce Goforth's proposed steep slope legislation. We're continuing our series of policy briefs with a detailed look at this legislation.


House Bill 782: Safe Artificial Construction Act of 2009
House Bill 1870: Safe Artifical Construction Act of 2010

The mountainous areas of North Carolina, primarily in the Western region of the state, have significant landslide hazards. In 2004, intense rainfalls from the remnants of two hurricanes triggered at least 130 landslides causing multiple deaths, destruction of homes, and disruption of transportation networks. Unstable slopes and the development that occurs on them threatens human safety and property these threats must be examined so action can be taken to reduce risk. House Bill 782 is looking to create a commission to study this risk, but has stalled in the General Assembly. House Bill 1870 was introduced at the beginning of the 2010 Legislative Session and requires local regulation.

The North Carolina Geological Survey has determined that the majority of Western North Carolina is at high risk for landslides and the insurance industry is aware of this. Home insurance policies deny coverage for damage caused by landslides and slope failures in North Carolina. Mountainside development has increased rapidly in the area, resulting in more individuals exposed to landslide hazards. Improper development also increases the threat to human safety and property.

The risks that landslides pose to Western North Carolina have been acknowledged in the North Carolina House of Representatives with House Bill 1870, the Safe Artificial Slope Construction Act of 2010. This bill plans to require local governments to adopt ordinances to regulate site planning, design, and construction of artificial slopes in mountainous areas and to create and direct the Sedimentation Control Commissions to assist local governments in development and implementation of safe slop construction programs and to develop a model ordinance. The purpose of this bill is to provide for a cooperative program of safe artificial slope construction to be administered by local governments consistent with minimum statewide management requirements established by the Sedimentation Control Commission.

North Carolina Sierra Club supports this Act because there is a significant landslide risk in Western North Carolina and human safety and protection of property is vital. H1870 is currently in the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources and North Carolina Sierra Club will track the movement of this bill during the 2010 Legislative Session.

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