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Seven Falls value has dropped by $45 million

Emergency repairs completed

A contractor the county hired to do emergency stabilization, Thunder Disaster Service Inc., has completed the first phase of work.
Henderson County Attorney Russ Burrell, who is handling the bond case in court and managing the use of the money, said the next step will be to update the Board of Commissioners and get direction on now to proceed. Property owners, too, will have a chance to submit plans if they choose.
"The court has to approve any work we do out there," Burrell said. Anything the county does "is almost guaranteed to displease everybody to some extent" because the money won't cover all the restoration, roadwork and infrastructure that is needed. A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit is likely to cost over $1 million, he said. Developers often do mitigation projects at another site to offset the Corps-assessed cost of crossing streams and creeks.
"I am not a developer and I don't have the ability to say we'll go down to this 50 acres and we'll do something there," Burrell said.
Tom Cooper, a Hendersonville commercial contractor, bought a lot for $350,000 that's now worth $25,300.
"I doubt very seriously it'll ever have the value we would all hope for," Cooper said. "Realistically I don't expect that to happen. I think another developer has got to come in. ... I don't know that it was crooked. It seems like a lot of questions need to be answered. But I definitely think it was the economy. I've been in the business almost 40 years and I've never been anything quite like we had in 2008."
Like a lot of buyers, Wendy Newman of Asheville, said she was thrilled at the possibility of Seven Falls as a retirement community.
"It would have been a magnificent golf course," she said. "It would have brought a lot to Etowah. I think it's a shame."
She and her husband, Stephen, paid $650,000 for a 1.4-acre lot in July 2007. It's now assessed at $58,200, a 91 percent drop in value.
"We bought it outright," she said. "That's a lot worse" than borrowing. "Some are trying to walk away. It's not easy. For people who have credit, to walk away is very difficult."
As for Vinson, she said, "Justice follows those who break the law, if not in this lifetime in another. The biggest thing is I hope he's not going to be left to do this to many more people. We're going to be OK. A lot of people aren't. I know people that have lost everything."


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