Florence City Council hears storm water concerns

February 12, 2019

FLORENCE, S.C. – Storm water was at the forefront of Monday’s meeting of the Florence City Council.

Mark Allen and Ronnie Summersett addressed their concerns over flooding on Saint Anthony Avenue. Saint Anthony Avenue is located off of Second Loop Road across from the Goodwill store.

Allen said he was best known for two things in Florence: a large Christmas light display he puts out for the community and that his house floods every time there is heavy rain. He also showed pictures of flooding in and around his property after a heavy rain on July 27, 2018. Allen said he was frustrated with the city and the state regarding his issues. He added that he was working with state Rep. Jay Jordan and that he had spoken to state Sen. Hugh K. Leatherman about the problem.

Summersett said he is frustrated that they pay a storm water fee each month and are receiving no benefit from it.

City Manager Drew Griffin said the average storm water fee was around $3.24, with people with larger amounts of covered land paying more.

Summerset claimed to be paying more than double that. He offered the council a chance to view a copy of his water bill.

Florence Mayor Stephen J. Wukela, Councilman George Jebaily and Griffin spoke to the concerns of Allen and Summersett.

Wukela said that the private storm water system for the neighborhood where Allen and Summersett live was constructed before standards were in place regarding the types of storms that the storm water system should be built to handle. Later, Wukela added, the Clean Water Act put very low standards in place that the city recently raised.

Wukela added that the storms were just getting worse over time and that the city has experienced several 500- to 1,000-year rain events in the past few years. No system designed would be able to handle that amount of rain.

Wukela also said that if the city were to commit to upgrading the storm water systems that need to be upgraded in the city, it could cost as much as $200 million. Even if the city doubles its current storm water fee, it would only raise $10 million. He also said there was a question of whether it was an appropriate role of government to improve privately owned storm water systems on private land.

Griffin listed a number of areas that are affected by flooding, including North Florence. He also said there was considerable community push back when the city tried to implement a storm water service fee. Griffin added that some of the storm water debt will be coming off the budget in two years, providing the city with some funds to improve storm water.

Jebaily expressed his sympathy and offered that he faced flooding issues at his law office and that his parents experienced flooding in the same area. He added that he wished he had a magic wand to fix the problem but that he did not.

Later in the meeting, Laura Poston addressed the council with concerns about storm water created by a development being constructed by Hugh Leatherman LLC off of Second Loop Road. Annexation of the development was up for second reading Monday.

The council approved the second reading 7-0 on the motion of Mayor Pro Tempore Frank J. “Buddy” Brand and a second by Glynn Willis.

Poston said she is concerned about additional runoff created by the development.

Griffin said a pond would be built to catch some of the runoff.

Griffin and Wukela got her contact information and said they would meet with her to allay some of her concerns regarding the development.

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