Florence works to clear city eyesores

By Kyle Grainger - bio | email

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The City of Florence is looking to clean up their community and it wants to force people who have overgrown lots and abandoned homes to clean up their mess.

Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela says the problem of abandoned homes has created problems of crime and eyesores for the city to deal with.

Residents living near the 2,500 places that have been identified as needing to be fixed up, say they have to deal with rodents, snakes and even termites.

Since Wukela took office, he says the city has cleared 240 lots and demolished 35 dwellings under the city's nuisance ordinance.

"We've made progress, but not enough by my measure," Wukela said.  "I'm not satisfied and I'm pushing for more.  It diminishes the value of the property surrounding it. And so what happens when a slumlord refuses to maintain their property, they push that cost over onto their neighbors."

Wukela says he is fighting for tougher regulations, so it would be easier for the city take over properties and clean them up. Through the ordinance the city would be able to step in, clean up lots or tear down buildings and place a lean on the property to pay for the costs.

Wukela says the city does not want to own the land.

"The city has no desire to hold title to these properties," Wukela said. "The city's desire is to enforce our laws that require people to keep their property up in a habitable manor that's not a nuisance to their neighbors."

The mayor says the new law took a back burner while city leaders worked on next year's budget and elections, but he hopes to move it forward in the coming months.

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