Florence moves forward to change lower income neighborhoods

City of Florence to vote on revitalization plans

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) -  A plan to revitalize less-fortunate communities in the City of Florence is drawing a line of division within city limits.

This is a project the city has been working on for two years, and on Monday, council members decided to adopt that plan.

In a jam-packed and heated city council meeting, people from all walks of life came to be heard on the plan to revitalize the lower-income areas of the City of Florence.

Preceding this meeting –dozens of other meetings took place, hosted by the city, so that all who live and own properties in north and east of Florence could say what they would like to see changed in their communities.

Also in those communities was an outside consulting firm that has worked in other areas of the country to help produce a plan to change the face of dilapidated communities.

 “The plan is not binding, it's more in the nature of what you see us do periodically in the form of comprehensive plans where we set out some aspirational goals and some methods to achieve those goals,” Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela said.

But it's that plan that has drawn concern among realtors, landlords and property owners.

The consulting firm suggests that substandard properties in those areas of Florence be brought up to a certain level.

City leaders say some of the properties in lower income areas of Florence have people living in them with holes in the floor and roof, along with no air and heat.

"What the consultants recommended is that this city identify those properties and work toward enforcement of the codes that are already on the book with regard of livability and the prevention of renting of substandard property," Wukela said.

While city council only decided to adopt a plan on Monday –the possible ordinances that may come from that plan are why property managers in those less fortunate communities have problems.

 “I'm not receptive to the argument in order for an individual rent properties and make money renting properties they have to be allowed to break the law, and that's what's happening if you are renting properties in substandard conditions,” Wukela said.

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