Throughout the project, we’ll post questions and comments that have been submitted on comment cards collected at community meetings, sent via email or submitted via the website.

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Recode Comments

My hope for Recode is to lower the barriers of entry for small-scale, community based development of affordable, efficient, and sustainable dwellings optimizing the density our existing neighborhoods.

A few suggestions for doing so...

Allowance ADU's:
-if ADU's remain contentious in some neighborhoods.. perhaps they could be allowed in RN-1, 2, 3, 4, etc. and not in EN.
-if contention remains consider utilizing the model ADU code developed by leading experts in the field (available at

After ADU's, a duplex is the lowest hanging fruit for small-scale community-based development. Consider lowering barriers of entry to duplex development, its a great tool increase sustainable density & diversity within existing neighborhoods. Suggestions as follows...

4-2: Consider revising "Minimum Interior Side Setbacks" to allow for small-scale development of duplex properties. Many communities that could benefit from additional density provided by a duplex contain 50' lots (and sometimes less). As written, side setbacks of 20' are counterproductive to a feasible shotgun duplex. Height requirements limit a stacked duplex. Design restrictions limit a "front/rear" duplex where both doors must face the frontage road. Less restrictions will be needed to fully utilize duplex development as a tangible solution for density & affordability.

Also, what would be the requirements for special allowance of Duplex in RN-1, RN-2?

Additional Comments:

4-2: 4.3.C.1 - Why would multi-family dwellings be LIMITED to corner lots only? What about double or triple interior lots, etc.?

9-15: W. Neighborhood Nonresidential ReUse - consider new builds and/or structures for Non-residential use at certain intersections within residential districts. Increase the availability of neighborhood stores, increase diversity, decrease auto-dependence, etc.

10-4: 8. Accessory structures cannot contain cooking facilities or plumbing? This seems heavy-handed and not conducive to resilient, adaptable structures. Garden shed, painting studio, pool house, etc. Plumbing + bathrooms should be at the owners discretion.

11-6: Dwelling - Two-Family = 2 parking spaces per dwelling unit... total of 4 for a duplex. Consider REDUCING to 1 per dwelling unit to not further hinder small-scale, community-based development.
Staff Reply:

Clarifications For Zoning Ordinance

I have some general feedback about Draft 2 that I want to share.

1.) I would like to see some basic community planner terminology added to the definitions list to make the document more readable for average citizens. Terms like corridor, node, overlay, and mixed-use development are not normal conversational terms and using them without defining them makes the document less accessible to the public.

2.) I am also curious why CU and SW are their own special zones? This sets a precedent where each mixed-use development or corridor development would get a unique zone. I know one of the goals is to simplify the current ordinance and so I do not understand why these properties could not be zoned as SD (Special District) or something more generic like that.

3.) I hope the updated ordinance will make it easier for people to walk or use public transportation. I would love to see a change made to our current policies so that new bus stops are built with safety and dignity in mind. There are several bus stops in my neighborhood where people waiting to catch the bus must stand in a ditch. I would love to see new development built with public transportation and pedestrian infrastructure in mind. A covered waiting area that is handicap-accessible would make a big difference in the perception/attitudes around our public transportation system.

4.) I think the addition of the Institutional zone and the Hillside Protection overlay are two great additions to the current ordinance. They make the map easier to use and understand.

Thank you for all of your hard work! I am excited to see the final product!
Staff Reply:

Recode Knoxville -- Op Zoning Districts 10-8-18


I am a resident of West Hills and frequently travel on Middlebrook Pike, Weisgarber, and Lonas.

In looking at Draft 1 of the proposed Maps for Middlebrook Pike, Weisgarber, and Lonas areas, I noticed that there are many parcels with a proposed OP (Office Park) zoning district. This includes the large parcel of vacant land which Tennova had planned to build a hospital, vacant parcels across Middlebrook Pike, and other nearby parcels that are either vacant land or have already been developed as offices.

The Recode Use Matrix, Article 9.2 shows the Permitted Uses for the OP zoning district. OP includes Eating and Drinking Establishments, Retail Goods Establishments, and Food Truck Parks, among other things as Permitted Uses. Gas Stations are allowed as a Special Use. These uses are very different from what is presently allowed in Office zoning districts in our existing Ordinance.

These types of developments would increase traffic considerably, and add additional noise and bright lights which will adversely affect West Hills properties which are adjacent to or nearby the Tennova property, and will adversely affect many West HIlls residents and others who use the already heavily traveled Middlebrook Pike/Weisgarber corridors.

Office zoned properties have long been used as a buffer between residential and commercial properties and that should be maintained for these type properties under Recode.

Therefore, I request that Eating and Drinking Establishments, Retail Goods Sales, Food Truck Parks and Gas Stations be removed as Permitted Uses or Special Uses in the Office Park zoning districts. In addition, Eating and Drinking Establishments should be allowed only as Accessory Uses to serve the employees and clients of that office building, along with standards that the restaurant not be a free-standing building. It should only be accessible from within the building.

Thank you for your consideration.
Staff Reply:

Design Standards

On page 5 of the survey (Design and Landscape Standards), I wanted to provide more details of my personal opinions. While design standards can be good, they can also severely limit the character of a place. I believe that the standards that could be introduced would be more along the lines of "You should plant 'this many' trees or have 'so many square feet' of landscaping. It should NOT restrict species, layout, or design of the landscape. The same principle applies to architectural elements. While there is good reason to require street-level storefront windows in certain development zones (corridor intersections to encourage street-front walkability and commerce), materials/design should NOT be prescribed. Architects and Landscape Architects should be given freedom to be creative. nnThe purpose of these rules would be to make sure we avoid the same mistakes made over the last 50 years with automobile-focused development, not prescribe uniformity throughout the city. Certain zones could or should require design elements to promote a healthy development, but should not prescribe every material/detail. That is where you counteract the character, vitality, and originality that new zoning codes would be trying to achieve. The most vibrant and memorable neighborhoods have diversity and character, not consistency.nnWe aren't trying to make cut-and-paste suburban housing tracts in our city centers, but active, healthy, and unique places for our residents to live, work, and play.
Staff Reply:


I attended the informational session at the Chamber on 8/21 and found it helpful in understanding the information. I do have a couple of comments and questions.

1. As far as the unlimited height restrictions go, this might be a scary idea to some neighborhood residents, without a further explanation. As I understand it, developers would be subject to review and approvals for the design plans, including height, is that correct? Is there a public component to that review?

2. I like the idea of being able to add additional dwellings on one lot or to build on small lots to assist with infill in the City and help with the housing crunch (this is sort of old-school, isn't it? But it seems it would really work). I think it is important to emphasize that mixed use residential can be added to commercial zones but not the other way around (is that indeed a correct interpretation?).

3. Contrary to an opinion I heard expressed at the Chamber meeting, I believe that "walkability" is not just a buzz word but is an extremely important component of making our City livable for all. The idea that people don't want to or need to be able to comfortably walk along a state highway in the City just doesn't make sense to me. The transit routes with the highest ridership travel the main corridors (state routes) and people have to be able to walk to the bus stop and to their destinations when they get off the bus. I have walked the block along Kingston Pike near Shrimp Dock (referenced at the meeting by Mr. Hill) many times and I do not agree with his assessment that this is something people don't want or need to do. They do it every day now and could enjoy it more with "walkability" improvements.

4. I did not really understand Mr. Hill's comments about not being able to place an L-shaped strip center on property with parking in the rear and that trash bins, etc. would be visible to people parking in the rear. It seems to me that bringing some imagination to bear on how a shopping center is designed could address many issues.

My 2 cents. Thank you for all you do!
Staff Reply:
If response to question 1, the height would be permitted by right and there would be no additional review of plans that would provide for a public component. The proposed unlimited height standard in the CG3 zone is still being discussed.

Apartments And Infrastructure

When new apartment complexes, subdivisions, or other large projects are considered, PLEASE take into account the existing infrastructure. I live off of Bluerass Road in west Knoxville. In the past couple of years, we have had a large subdivision put in on Mourfield Rd, which caused damage to that road (small, 2 lane, no shoulder, windy, and steep), and caused us to go from only having power outages in weather situations to having weekly and occasionally daily power outages while they were building that subdivision. Now there is an apartment complex going in on Emory Church Road that is causing even more issues. We have frequent power outages during construction. Emory Church Road is not a large enough road to accommodate the traffic. The road has almost been destroyed by the construction equipment, and they are in the process of adding a traffic light because of the increase in traffic. That traffic light project has been TERRIBLE. My child attends preschool at West Emory Presbyterian Church, at the corner of Emory Church Road and Westland Dr. The project took over 2 months, rules were not followed, the parking lot was destroyed and partially blocked for nearly a month, and the workers were just plain rude. The light still isn't up, but the turn lane on Westland has been re-painted to accommodate when the light is in effect, making it very difficult to turn left onto Westland.

All this to say....the infrastructure should have been addressed BEFORE any of these projects were approved and started. The LCUB substation on Westland Dr. needs to be larger to accommodate the new buildings so that existing customers didn't have to experience 2 years of frequent power outages. The roads should have been widened and supported before construction equipment destroyed them. The light should have been installed before construction on the building projects began.
Staff Reply:

South Knoxville Sidewalk

Are their any plans to put sidewalk/bike path on Sevier Ave? There is a huge need from SoKno Taco corner up to Red Bud crossing. People frequently walk this area and it is very difficult to see them at night...with no shoulder. I get frustrated at lack of services for an area that the home owners pay city and county taxes, but we get forgotten or left out of improvements. Thanks!
Staff Reply:

Section 10.3 & 10.4 - Accessory Structures And Uses

I believe that there should be more consistency between section 10.3 (F) CARPORTS and section 10.3 (N) GARAGE, DETACHED.

First, does section 10.3 (F) apply to detached carports only, or attached and detached carports? Clarification there would be beneficial.

Second, why must a carport be set back from side lot lines 10 feet whereas a detached garage requires no setback from side lot lines? I would think application of setbacks for these structures would be consistent with each other.

It may be that each could be addressed in a consistent manner with regard to Table 10-1, Permitted Encroachments as unenclosed porches (similar to a carport) and sheds (similar to a detached garage).

Staff Reply:

Ag Designations

Can the AG designation be reviewed to break down uses when surrounded by RN-1,2,3? Lot sided by. Size of plot. AG-1, AG-2?
Staff Reply:

Process Of Reaching The Citizens

I have now been to two of your public meetings. Both meetings combined had maybe 90 people. When I talk with my neighbors almost 100% are completely unaware of this radical transformation of the city. Even if they would find out, the complexities of the code changes preclude comprehension for the average citizen. No hard data is presented about the impact of these changes on property values and city services. The presentation team "sells" the concept and obfuscation rules. If they were to spell out explicitly that the "Single Family Residence" will be dead throughout the city after these changes and that all residential properties will be zoned as "duplex," the majority of tax payers would be outraged.
Staff Reply:
First, the R-1 (Low Density Residential) zone currently allows duplexes as a Use on Review. This can be viewed in the City's Code of Ordinances, Appendix B, Section IV, Section 2.1.1. Part C.10. A review of the City's older zoning ordinances shows that the provision for two-family housing units was introduced as an amendment in mid-1960's (Ordinance 3616, September 22, 1964). It should be further noted that the Established Neighborhood districts (EN-1 and EN-2) also permit duplexes as Use on Review, although with a specification that they property be located on a lot with two-street frontages. At present, if a property owner in an R-1, EN-1 or EN-2 zoned area wished to construct a duplex, an application is made to the MPC and a public hearing would be held. The new RN-1 and RN-2 districts propose a continuation of a similar procedure with the issuance of a building permit contingent upon a public hearing being held and approval by the Planning Commission.

Second, an examination of MPC records for the period from 1992 to present show only a handful of instances where owners sought to construct duplexes within the R-1 zone. Over that 27-year period, there were a total of 54 applications with 32 ultimately receiving approval. On average, that equates to a little more than 1 duplex a year being approved in R-1 districts. Since 2015, only two applications have been made and both were withdrawn prior to the hearing. For reference, the R-1 district covers over 33,000 parcels in the City and represents about 53% of all residentially-zoned parcels.

Third, in zoning districts were duplexes are permitted by right (without the requirement for a public hearing) new construction of this style of housing is slightly more common, but still represents a fraction of the housing stock constructed in the City. These zones include the R-1A and R-2 district where, on average, about 18 duplexes have been constructed annually over the period from 2005 to present.

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