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      City of Florence forms special court to deal with nuisance and abatement matters

      Florence City Council hired a judge to deal with "liveability" matters Monday during its regular council meeting.

      The judge will handle nuisance and abatement issues including the city's more than 2,500 abandoned homes and properties.

      Those issues were handled by city court, but Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela says they got lost in the shuffle.

      He's the new "liveability judge" and will have more time to devote to abandoned property issues and set timelines for landowners to clean up their lots and homes to avoid demolition.

      Wukela says the restructured court system is a part of the city's efforts to enforce codes to revitalize neighborhoods plagued with abandoned properties.

      "To be able to go into an area that's been dilapidated and abandoned , reinvest in it, as we did in downtown Florence. Provide maintenance codes enforce supervise and enforce those maintenance codes. Provide expectations along to support to bring life back in to a part of the city that has fallen into disrepair. And as a result of disrepair, causes many of the costs and problems throughout the city," said Wukela.

      Wukela added he believes the restructured court system will help lower crime in many of the affected neighborhoods.

      Florence's new Community Relations Commander will help enforce the codes and work with the liveability judge.

      They expect to begin work in about six months when they go through training and develop action plans.