City of Florence to demolish 12 more abandoned houses - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

City of Florence to demolish 12 abandoned houses

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FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The city of Florence will demolish 12 more abandoned properties beginning Wednesday.

City officials say it's been over a year since a house was knocked down. Lots have been cleaned-up. 435 to date, and about 90 houses have been knocked down so far. Still there are more than 800 lots to be addressed.

"It affects everyone's property value in the neighborhood because it takes up space," said Harry Davis who lives down the street from two abandoned properties. "People don't want to move into a neighborhood because they see a lot of abandoned houses."

Florence Chief of Police Anson Shells says dangerous activity, like drug use, vandalism and violent crimes often happens in these types of homes.

"Any time we can get rid of an abandoned home, it's a plus," Chief Shells said.

Fire Marshall Kenneth Carr of the Florence Fire Department says that as the temperature drops, the homeless population will seek out vacant homes for shelter.

"Most times we have trouble is going into the colder months," Carr said. "People will be inside of them trying to stay warm."

Carr says he normally sees about 12 fires per year in abandoned homes.

Scotty Davis is the Director of Community Services for the city and oversees the handling of the neglected lots.

"Whenever we can go out and make a small dent in this problem it makes a big difference," Davis said.

Davis says he's waiting for the city to move forward with what's called a livability court. It's a court specifically for "quality of life" issues like trash problems in your area, loud dog barking or vacant homes.

He says the court was approved by the city council in July and has been factored into the budget. The next step is for council members to appoint judges. Davis says this should happen soon.

The second element is being able to enforce city ordinances on the up keep of run-down homes. Davis says his department also needs to be able to strictly enforce the city's upkeep requirements.

"To look at our ordinances, to make those necessary changes to allow that flexibility to make those changes to get done what needs to be done," Davis said. "I think the livability court will assist this."

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