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Attorney explains Lake Oakdale area annexation request

August 5, 2018 GMT

FLORENCE, S.C. – Attorney Gary Finklea recently spoke with the Morning News regarding a request of three property owners to be annexed by the city of Florence.

The three owners, the Finklea Law Firm, South Florence Developers, and The Palms Course, have requested annexation for properties listed in the Florence County property tax records as TMS numbers 00052-01-001, 00052-01-005, 00052-01-049, 00052-01-061, 00052-01-068, 00052-01-069, 00075-01-022, 000522-01-027, and a portion of 00751-01-049.

Finklea has spoken on behalf of the property owners at at least one city meeting.

The properties are basically an “L” shape turned on its side.

Plans for the top of the “L”

The top part of the “L” that connects to the limits of the city runs along The Palms Golf Course and property owned by the golf course along Lake Oakdale. That property is designated with TMS numbers 00751-01-049 and 00075-01-022.

The property with TMS number 00751-01-049 is zoned R-1 in the county. The property with TMS number 00075-01-022 is not zoned in the county. The city of Florence Planning Commission has voted to recommend zoning these two properties Open Space Recreation, which would prohibit all development of the property. The property with TMS number 00075-01-022 is also under Lake Oakdale.

The Oakdale subdivision currently lies just beneath the top part of the “L.” The subdivision itself would not be annexed into the city.

The “L” curves on another property that is difficult to determine the TMS number of in the map provided by Finklea. This property is also beneath Lake Oakdale. Only a portion of it would annexed into the city under the request.

Plans for the property beneath the curve of the “L”

The first property beneath the curve is property designated TMS number 00552-01-027. No definitive plans are established for the property. However, this property is located north of the main subdivision to be built and could be a natural outgrowth for the subdivision. If the annexation request is accepted by the city council and the council accepts the recommendation of the city planning commission, the property would be zoned RG-2. The property is currently zoned R-1 in the county.

The next properties beneath the curve are properties with TMS numbers 00052-01-005, 00052-01-061, 00052-01-066, 00052-01-068, and 00052-01-069. They are planned to be developed into a subdivision with more than 100 homes. Most of these properties are owned by South Florence Developers. These properties are currently zoned R-2 in the county. Pending annexation, the city of Florence Planning Commission voted on May 8 to recommend RG-2 zoning to the county.

The property with TMS 00052-01-001 is located alongside property with TMS number 00052-01-005.

It is not yet known what the plans are for property with TMS numbers 00052-01-001. However, its location suggests it, too, could be a natural outgrowth for the subdivision to be constructed on the property with TMS number 00052-01-005. The property with TMS number 00052-01-001 is zoned RU-1 (00052-01-001). The Planning Commission voted to recommend zoning this properties RG-2 if they are annexed by the city.

The final property in the “L” shape is property with TMS Number 00052-01-49. It is also expected to be developed into a small subdivision. This property, along with property with TMS Number 00052-01-001, is currently zoned RU-1 in the county. The city planning commission voted on May 8 to recommend zoning both properties to RG-2.

The differences between zoning in the county and in the city

According to Finklea, zoning, whether R-2 or RG-2, is very restrictive and the effect of the designations are nearly identical. Finklea also showed plans that were nearly identical for the subdivision whether it is in the city or the county.

There are differences, however, between RU-1 zoning of the county and RG-2.

Under the county’s RU-1 designation there are several types of uses permitted that are not allowed under the city’s RG-2. These uses include duplexes, manufactured housing, gas stations, flea markets, restaurants, warehouses, communications towers, and several types of businesses.

As such, there is one set of plans for property with TMS number 00052-01-049 for a scenario in which the annexation request is denied and the property remains in the county. The plans call for duplexes that Finklea described as essentially townhomes to be constructed on the property.

Duplexes are prohibited under the city’s RG-2 zoning. Townhomes are permitted under a subtype of the RG-2 designation, but the size of the property would make such a project economically unfeasible.

Why have the owners requested annexation?

Finklea explained that the city of Florence provides water and sewer services to that area of the county, regardless of whether the property is inside the city limits. However, hooking up to the city’s water and sewer systems is more expensive for those living outside the city. In addition, the city charges more to those outside the city on a monthly basis.

Also, the city’s water and sewer department may want something different from what the county’s planning department wants. Sometimes, when a subdivision is constructed the city’s water and sewer want lines to run in the middle of the road or on the side of the road. The county planning department may want the opposite of the desires of the city’s water and sewer department.

This makes it tough for developers to please both groups. By annexing into the city, developers only must work with one set of plans: those wanted by the city.

Finklea added that he had requested the more restrictive RG-2 zoning for most of the properties from the city as a way of preventing the changing of the character of the area. If, in the future, the owners of the properties would like to attempt to change the use of the properties, they would have a more difficult time doing so under the city’s zoning.

What happens next?

The matter of the annexation has been before the city council in its the last two meetings. It has been deferred both times.

The agenda for the Aug. 13 meeting of the city council is not yet available and it is not known whether the matter will be on the agenda or deferred again.