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S.C. Supreme Court says West Florence Fire violates constitution, can't operate on its own

(WPDE file image)

The South Carolina Supreme Court has denied an appeal by the West Florence Fire District to operate as a special purpose district outside of Florence County.

The court said in an order issued Wednesday that "the creation of the West Florence District violates Article VIII, § 7 of the South Carolina Constitution because the district is not truly a multicounty district. "

The order further states, "Accordingly, we AFFIRM and REMAND the matter to the circuit court for its approval of a plan to transition the district to county control. "

The S.C. Supreme Court heard the appeal back in December by the West Florence Fire District after South Carolina Circuit Court Judge J.C. Nicholson, Jr. ruled against the new district.

Nicholson issued a ruling last July that the West Florence Fire District couldn't operate as a special purpose district.

That ruling followed a two-day bench trial last July at the Florence County Courthouse.

Florence County filed suit against West Florence Fire District in September 2014 saying that it was unconstitutional to operate as a special purpose fire district.

State House Bill H. 5225 was passed into law last May, thereby creating a separate fire district in West Florence and removing the community from Florence County's new consolidated fire district, which merged six districts into one.

Related: West Florence fire district buys land for expansion

Commissioners with West Florence Fire District have said they have the right to operate as a special purpose district, as 75 other special purpose fire districts exist in South Carolina.

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