Chocolate Drop roads closed

Published 7:35 pm Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Clearly, now that the state has completely closed off the roads due to safety concerns, the general conclusion is reconfirmed: Chocolate Drop is a big mess and a big shame for everyone involved.

The development road facing White Oak Mountain is dangerously unstable. Portions have eroded and slid down the mountain, and it appears only a matter of time before more slides away in these wet, wet days.

Erosion issues temporarily halted Chocolate Drop construction back in 2006. When the drought ended, and heavy rains came in 2009, the subdivision really suffered. The N.C. Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources cited multiple violations and issued $116,000 in fines there just last year. Developers are now working on a slope stabilization plan and settlement. One can only imagine the cost.

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If only the developers, LGI Land, had just left more trees in place, and gone with fewer lots. It is hard to believe at one time they planned about 100 lots. That was eventually dropped to the final number of 45 after the developer met with the late Glenn Rhodes while he was Columbus town manager.

Chocolate Drop contains about 122 acres, much of it so steep its unbuildable. Lots range from two to five acres.

All the lots were sold in prices ranging from $80,000 to $229,000 after LGI brought in prospective buyers for a grand opening event in 2007. Buyers came from all over Florida, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina and other states. The timing for sales turned out to be perfect, moving all the lots just before the market collapse. Of course, it was bad timing for the buyers. No one has ever built there, although there was at least one driveway put in. A few of the lots are for sale, but no one can even get to them now. It all may keep lawyers busy.

This sad neighborhood is a prime example why local governments must enact stricter erosion controls. JB