Some of the top complaints at community meetings held for the Florence Neighborhood Action Plan were codes enforcement issues like abandoned and/or dilapidated housing, overgrown lots, neglectful property maintenance and accumulated trash and debris. Residents repeatedly mentioned these concerns as plaguing their neighborhoods, which makes revitalization in North, Northwest and East Florence considerably more challenging. Historically, if codes enforcement officers couldn’t resolve these problems administratively, officers would issue citations for such offenses. If they still weren’t resolved within the timeframe allotted, the cases would be sent to municipal court. This wasn’t the most efficient process, as municipal court would average up to 50 cases daily on its criminal docket.
Fortunately, that process has been overhauled with the new livability court the City established especially for nuisance abatement. The new court, which started in January 2014, hears codes enforcement issues twice a month. Creating the livability court is another step in the right direction for the neighborhood revitalization process.
Following are some of the greatest offenses affecting the neighborhood revitalization areas, with the corresponding legislation, as found in the City Code of Ordinances.
Illegal Dumping – Littering
Sec. 9-20. - Littering
(a) No person shall dump, throw, drop, deposit, discard or otherwise dispose of litter or other solid waste upon any public or private property within the city, whether from a vehicle or otherwise, including, but not limited to any street, sidewalk, city right-of-way, playground, park, stream, ditch, catch basin, business or commercial property, or residential lot, except:
(1) Into a litter receptacle in such a manner that the litter will be prevented from being carried away or deposited by the elements upon any part of such private or public property.
(2) As authorized pursuant to the storage, collection and disposal practices set forth in this chapter.
(b) Responsibility for the removal of litter from property or receptacles shall be upon the owner of the property where the receptacle is located.
(c) Failure of any driver or operator of any motor vehicle to cover and secure any loose material which is being transported or hauled upon the streets or other rights-of-way in the city so as to cause such material to blow, fall, spill or drop and thereby litter any street or other property within the city shall constitute a violation of this section.
(d) Violations, penalties.
(1) A person who violates the provisions of this section in an amount less than fifteen (15) pounds in weight or twenty-seven (27) cubic feet in volume is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than one hundred dollars ($100.00) nor more than two hundred dollars ($200.00) or imprisoned for not more than thirty (30) days for each offense. In addition to a fine and for each offense under the provisions of this item, the court shall also impose a minimum of five (5) hours of litter-gathering labor or other form of public service as the court may order because of physical or other incapacities, and which is under the supervision of the court.
(2) The fine for a deposit of a collection of litter or garbage in an area or facility not intended for public deposit of litter or garbage is two hundred dollars ($200.00). The provisions of this item apply to a deposit of litter or garbage, as defined in State Code, Section 44-67-30(4), in an area or facility not intended for public deposit of litter or garbage, but this does not prohibit a private property owner from depositing litter or garbage as a property enhancement if the depositing does not violate applicable local or state health and safety regulations. In addition to a fine and for each offense under the provisions of this item, the court shall also impose a minimum of five (5) hours of litter-gathering labor or other form of public service as the court may order because of physical or other incapacities, and which is under the supervision of the court.
(3) The court, in lieu of payment of the monetary fine imposed for a violation of this article, may direct the substitution of additional litter-gathering labor or other form of public service as it may order because of physical or other incapacities, under the supervision of the court, not to exceed one (1) hour for each five dollars ($5.00) of fine imposed.
(4) For a second and subsequent convictions under the provisions of (1) or (2), a minimum of twenty (20) hours of community service must be imposed in addition to a fine.
(5) In addition to any other punishment authorized by this section, in the discretion of the court in which conviction is obtained, the person may be directed by the judge to pick up and remove from any public place or any private property, with prior permission of the legal owner upon which it is established by competent evidence that the person deposited litter, all litter deposited on the place or property by anyone before the date of execution of sentence.
(e) Any person who violates the provisions of this section in an amount exceeding fifteen (15) pounds in weight or twenty-seven (27) cubic feet in volume, but not exceeding five hundred (500) pounds or one hundred (100) cubic feet, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not less than two hundred dollars ($200.00) nor more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than ninety (90) days. In addition, the court shall require the violator to pick up litter or perform other community service to commensurate with the offense committed.
Trash & Debris
Sec. 9-24. - Nuisance conditions, abatement.
(a) It is found and determined that there exist in the city lots and tracts of land, occupied and unoccupied, privately and publicly owned, upon which refuse and debris have been allowed to accumulate and remain. Such conditions provide a harborage for rodents, vermin, mosquitoes and other pests, depreciate property values of neighboring properties, constitute a detriment, danger or hazard to the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the city, and are hereby declared to be a public nuisance. A public necessity exists to exercise the police power of the city to cause the abatement of such conditions in the manner provided in this division.
(b) It is also found and determined that there exist in the city lots and tracts of land, occupied and unoccupied, privately and publicly owned, upon which dead trees of sufficient size and proximity to a public street or sidewalk have been allowed to remain such that the trees, or limbs therefrom, upon falling, could interfere with the free and safe passage along the street or sidewalk by pedestrians or vehicular traffic. Such conditions constitute a detriment, danger or hazard to the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the city and are hereby declared to be a public nuisance. A public necessity exists to exercise the police power of the city to cause the abatement of such conditions in the manner provided in this division.
(c) It is further found and determined that there exist in the city lots and tracts of land, occupied and unoccupied, privately and publicly owned, upon which dense growths of weeds, vines, briars or undergrowth have been allowed to grow, accumulate or remain. Where such conditions provide a harborage for rodents, vermin, mosquitoes or other pests, exist in such proximity to houses and other structures as to increase the hazards of disease, injury or fire, or otherwise constitute a detriment, danger or hazard to the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the city, they are hereby declared to be a public nuisance. Under such circumstances, a public necessity exists to exercise the police power of the city to cause the abatement of such public nuisance in the manner hereinafter provided.
Overgrowth of Weeds & Grass
Sec. 9-26. - Property conditions prohibited.
(2) Where found to constitute a public nuisance under the provisions of this
division, a place of dense growth of weeds, grass, vines, or briars over twelve (12) inches in height, and within either one hundred (100) feet of an abutting public street or fifty (50) feet of a house or other residential, commercial or industrial building; provided, however the term building shall not include detached structures which are accessory to a dwelling unit or other residential, commercial or industrial building. The weeds, grass, vines or briars constituting a prohibited condition described by this subsection (2) shall be cleared and cut to not more than six (6) inches in height.
Abandoned & Junked Vehicles
Sec. 9-30. - Abandoned vehicles and junked motorized vehicles prohibited.
Abandoned vehicles and junked motorized vehicles are solid wastes as defined by this chapter. Any unauthorized accumulation thereof is prohibited.
Sec. 9-34. - Criteria used to determine abandonment and junked status.
The following criteria may be used to help the enforcement officers determine whether a motorized vehicle is abandoned or junked under the definitions in this chapter:
(1) It has been left upon a street or highway in violation of a law or ordinance prohibiting parking longer than forty-eight (48) hours;
(2) It has been left on property owned or controlled by the city for a period of more than forty-eight (48) hours;
(3) It has been left on private property without the consent of the owner, occupant or lessee thereof for a period of more than forty-eight (48) hours;
(4) It has been left on any public street or highway of the city for a period of more than forty-eight (48) hours;
(5) The vehicle fails to display a current license plate; and current local taxes have not been paid.
(6) It is partially dismantled or wrecked and the owner does not claim it to be an antique vehicle;
(7) It is incapable of self-propulsion or being moved in the manner for which it was originally intended and the owner does not claim it to be an antique vehicle.
Sec. 4-210. - Definitions.
Dilapidation: A dilapidated housing unit is one that does not provide safe and adequate shelter, and in its present condition endangers the health, safety or well-being of the occupants. Such a housing unit has one or more critical defects, or has a combination of intermediate defects in sufficient number or extent to require considerable repair or rebuilding, or is of inadequate original construction. The defects are either so critical or so widespread that the structure should be extensively repaired, rebuilt or torn down. Critical defects include: Holes, open cracks, or rotted, loose or missing material (clapboard siding, shingles, bricks, concrete, tile, plaster or floorboards) over a large area of the foundation, outside walls, roof, chimney, or inside walls, floors or ceilings; substantial sagging of floors, walls or roof; and extensive damage by storm, fire or flood. To be classified as dilapidated on the basis of intermediate defects, a housing unit must have such defects in sufficient number or extent that it no longer provides safe or adequate shelter. Inadequate original construction includes: Shacks, huts or tents; structures with makeshift walls or roofs, or built of packing boxes, scrap lumber or tin; structures lacking foundations (walls rest directly on the ground); structures with dirt floors; barns, garages or other places not originally intended for living quarters and inadequately converted to such quarters).