FLORENCE, S.C. -- The current comprehensive plan of the city of Florence is nearing the end of its expected life.

The plan, as adopted in 2011, has four areas of focus:

>> Urban growth.

>> Community character and appearance.

>> Neighborhood renewal and revitalization.

>> Community livability.

The focus areas have developed into strategies for the city council and staff to use in their efforts to improve the community from 2011.

Three current members of the Florence City Council were on the council at the time the comprehensive plan was passed: Mayor Stephen J. Wukela, current Mayor Pro Tempore Frank J. “Buddy” Brand and Octavia Williams-Blake.

Wukela said it was important to note the city takes a unique approach to its plan. He added that many of the targets in the plan have already been exceeded, something he said spoke to the progress of the city.

Brand said the plan was a work in progress but that it was working well incorporating the whole city to make Florence a better, more beautiful community.

Williams-Blake said just looking at the city’s downtown growth, the plan was paying off.

The first major focus area is the management of growth. The first sub-strategy is the effective use of zoning to combat “leapfrog developments.” To that end, the city council has adopted a new zoning plan, and the city has won awards from the state municipal association for its approach to neighborhood redevelopment. The city also continues to work toward replacing aging systems such as water, sewer and trash collection.

Florence also has taken over the town of Timmonsville’s water system.

The city has invested in improvements at several parks, including the construction of community centers at Dr. Iola Jones Park and Maple Park. And the city has been involved with the creation of a soccer complex, tennis center and basketball facilities. It is working on a track/baseball complex. The city recently opened its first inclusive playground with potential to construct another one at Timrod Park.

In downtown, the city has provided incentives that have helped with building of the Hyatt Place Hotel, the construction of Hotel Florence and Victor’s and the opening of several businesses. HopeHealth was built on the sight of an empty lot where junk accumulated.

There is additional potential development on and around the site of the Florentine building. Details have not been announced, but millions of dollars are expected to be invested in housing and businesses as downtown development expands to the west.

The construction of a nursing home on West Lucas Street is coming.

The city’s downtown development corporation holds many events to attract people.

The current city comprehensive plan was adopted by the city council on Feb. 14, 2011, and it was the culmination of a process that began in June 2009. The plan was updated by the city council on May 8, 2017.

City Manager Drew Griffin said the plan has expanded with the Pedestrian Master Plan, also adopted on May 8, 2017, and the U.S. 76 Gateway Corridor Study that was adopted by the city council on Feb. 11.

The gateway corridor study contains recommendations for both the city and the county to make East Palmetto Street between Francis Marion University and Church Street an attractive path to the city’s downtown areas.

The main aspects of the plan include signage designating the route into districts and intersection improvements, particularly the intersection between East Palmetto and East Cheves streets.

Associated with the city’s comprehensive plan is the city’s downtown plan, which was also adopted on Feb. 14, 2011.

Government and Poltics Reporter

I cover the city of Florence, the county of Florence, the state legislative delegation of Florence County and surrounding areas, and the federal delegation representing the Pee Dee for the Morning News.

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