Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Experts Question Home Building in Landslide Areas Posh Houses Built in Disaster Zones

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Experts Question Home Building in Landslide Areas Posh Houses Built in Disaster Zones

Article excerpt

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Some of the priciest real estate in Colorado Springs lies within an active 200-acre landslide zone that has damaged at least nine homes and threatens more, geologists say.

And despite ongoing building of new homes -- one recently finished in the landslide zone is valued at nearly $1 million -- the report warns against future construction in the area.

The landslide area, which stretches between a zoo and a golf course, has long been known to local geologists and engineers. But it is getting fresh attention from state experts after heavy rains last spring triggered land movement in the area.

The Colorado Geological Survey report focuses on a 13-home area in the middle of the larger landslide. It cites cracks in the roadways, buckled concrete, doorways and windows twisted out of place, buckling tennis courts, a bent chain-link fence and so-called "drunken forests," where trees lean at odd angles.

In the wider landslide area, the report cited evidence -- including buckling roads and underground test results -- suggesting potential for damage elsewhere. Actually, more damage may have occurred, particularly in the west and east areas of the larger landslide area, the report said.

"This is the first public document to really talk about the extent of that landslide," said David Noe, chief of engineering geology for the CGS.

But the damage is not news to dozens of homeowners who recently sought disaster aid when the Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed to provide $4.1 million to help those whose homes were wrecked or damaged by landslides following the heavy spring rains of 1999.

The damage is financial, too. Some of the landslide-area homes are selling for far less than they did a few years ago. One recently sold for less than half the $546,000 it brought in 1989.

It was FEMA's offer of landslide aid that led to the report by state geologists, who assisted on the project to see which homes were most threatened. …

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