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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Downtown Residential Uses

Hello,Thank you for your effort.I am concerned that the proposed code seems to totally override existing residential uses downtown.Section 5.2.B. of the code states that multi-family dwellings are allowed only in the DK-B subdistrict of downtown?? Am I missing something? There is multi-family dwelling all over the downtown area. (Very little housing exists in DK-B, incidentally.) Encouraging people to live downtown has been a cornerstone of economic development for the past two decades. It's a key of how creative people and academics choose to relocate to Knoxville. What happens to the hundreds of families who live in proposed DK-W, DK-G, and DK-H sub-districts? I am a resident just north of downtown in The Mews Development on Magnolia, where I live with my husband and toddler. In the current plan, our development will be zoned DK-W. (Search 110 W Magnolia.) Prior to moving here, my husband and I lived for 10 years in a mixed-use development on Summit Hill drive--now proposed as DK-G. I'm just really confused. Thanks for any clarification you can share.
Staff Reply:
The wording of this provision of the draft zoning code update is a bit confusing. The intent was to limit single use residential buildings to certain sub-districts of the downtown, requiring mixed use (residential and commercial, etc) in all other sub-districts. There has been a good bit of discussion with regard to restricting single use residential buildings in any area of downtown, and the standards for this likely will change in the next draft. At any rate, the wording will be clearer!

Streetscape Section In The Sw District

The entire streetscapes section has been deleted, with a note that it "should" be moved to the subdivision ROW standards. What if any plans have been made to do this? I acknowledge that this section has problems, but a better solution would be to leave it in Recode and then come back and rework it as needed rather than to just delete it with a vague promise that it will go elsewhere.
Staff Reply:
The streetscape standards section of the SW District has been deleted from the zoning. It addressed things like ROW width, movement type, design speed, pedestrian crossing time, curb radius, etc. These are things that ultimately don't belong in the zoning code, and should be incorporated into the subdivision ordinance. More specifically, the recommendation is that they should be moved to the streets and right-of-way standards in the subdivision, where these types of elements are already being addressed (Section 3.04 of the City/County Subdivision Ordinance, for reference).The subdivision ordinance would need to be amended to include these standards.

Article 4.1 Purpose Statements

At the end of every Residential Neighborhood Purpose Statement is the sentence: Limited nonresidential uses that are compatible with the character of the district may also be permitted. I can not find anywhere in this draft where the elements that make up the "character" of the district are defined nor the weight that would be applied to each of those elements when/if a permit for a nonresidential use is applied for. Such a broad statement with no definition is exactly what citizens fear and have been accustomed to as uses that do not appear to be compatible encroach into residential and non-residential zoning districts alike. Character, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. If you are unable to define it, you are not afforded the luxury of making up the rules as you go along!
Staff Reply:
Thank you for taking the time to review the draft ordinance! The character of each district is defined in multiple ways within the ordinance:
  • The purpose statement for each district, which identifies the intent of the regulations, and outlines a general character for each of the districts through descriptive language like “exhibiting a predominantdevelopment pattern of single-family homes on relatively large lots and with generous setbacks,”(RN-1) or “comprising a heterogeneous mix of single-family, two-family, townhouse, and multi-family dwellings.” (RN-5)
  • The dimensional standards for each district, which establish the physical parameters for development in the districts, and as such are probably the most explicit means of defining the character of each district.
  • Design standards (where applicable), for the EN district, or for pocket neighborhoods in the RN-4 add further detail to the character of those districts.
  • Site Development Standards, Use Standards, Landscape, etc. All work together to further define character â€" through lighting standards that vary based on location and district, to accessory structure regulations that acknowledge the physical size of lots, use standards with varying applicability by district and lot size, etc.
Finally, when we’re talking about nonresidential uses that are compatible with the character of these districts, the things permitted as compatible are uses like parks, community centers, daycare homes, etc. If there’s anything that potentially has greater impacts, they have been made special uses, which would necessitate review to ensure that they meet the approval standards for a special use. The allowable uses for each district can be found in this section. If you have any further questions or comments please let us know.

Medical Dental Office

Why did medical/dental office get changed from P to S in C-N?
Staff Reply:
P is for "Permitted use" and S is for "Special use", which is essentially equivalent to the current use on review process. Medical office was changed from permitted to special use in neighborhood commercial because it is currently not allowed at all in the C-1 zone. Some medical offices can be big operations that may not be appropriate for all neighborhood oriented locations.

16.2 Nonconforming Use, D. Discontinuation And Abandoment

D. Discontinuation or Abandonment If a nonconforming use is discontinued for a continuous period of six* months**, the nonconforming use terminates automatically. Any subsequent use of such land or structure must comply with all regulations of the zoning district in which the structure or land is located. * strike "six" and insert "18"insert ", and is not actively marketed,"Add definition for "actively marketed" to 2.3 Definitions sections:Property is marketed continuously online through professional multiple listing services (example,, FlexMLS, Knoxville Area Associaton of Realtors Commercial Information Exchange, LoopNet, Costar, Zillow, etc) and/or signage indicating that property is for sale or lease.
Staff Reply:
MPC and City staff will work with our consultants to make the changes noted to the non-conforming use section and the addition of a definition for "actively marketed".

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:

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:

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).Thanks
Staff Reply:

Draft 2 Comments

Thank you for the opportunity to review and comment on the second draft of Recode Knoxville. Many of the regulations in the proposed code succeed in streamlining the permitting process and providing design flexibility. The proposed code should also: protect and promote residential character; establish a transparent, interactive development review process; and ensure that our overall community is attractive.Ensure that existing and proposed residential development promotes a sense of community.1. Home Occupation - in addition to the proposed regulations there should be a size limit (25% of habitable floor area) and a limit on public visits (by appointment only which can be achieved by not advertising the address). There is no restriction on the number of public visits. No stipulation as to adverse impacts (noise, light, smell, vibration)2. Day Care Homes - the standards in the existing code should be maintained. As written there is no limit on # of children and no requirement to maintain residential appearance or character. 3. Kennels - the typical limit of five dogs/cats prevents residential animal hoarding. As proposed, there is no limit.4. Accessory Dwelling Units - as written, this standard will entice investors to bid on properties, construct a second dwelling unit, then rent both units out thereby driving up the market price of residential property and degrading the stability and social fabric of neighborhood community. This escalating value of real estate lessens the availability of affordable/workforce houses. By requiring the homeowner to live on the property, the home owner has a revenue stream (helpful for moderate or low-income families) or lodging for family or caretakers, close control of the property, an on-site contact for neighbors should complaints arise, and disincentivizes rapid increase of market rates (investors would not want to live on the property).5. Multi-family - provide simple design standards to avoid a shoe box appearance; such as façade modulation, variation in texture or color, and porches/balconies/decks.6. Consistency - EN has a minimum lot size of 22,000 sq. ft. per Table 4-1. EN with a HP overlay has a minimum lot size of 7,200 sq. ft. (6 du per acre) Table 8-1. "Table 8-1: Density and Land Disturbance Limitation establishes the maximum residential density ." Why would HP allow greater density?7. Garage Sales - how frequently can an owner have a garage sale until it becomes a business?Establish a transparent, interactive development review process.1. Expand the flow charts to include appeals.2. Require posted signs to be clearly visible by two-way traffic on each right-of-way contiguous to the property.3. The required 12 days for sign posting should not include holidays as people are more likely to be away.4. Provide notice to neighborhood associations.5. Special Use Conditions should also be able to address use impacts such as hours of operation, noise, etc.6. Provide mailed notice of applications for Administrative Decisions to contiguous property owners and post a yard sign.7. For Special Use approval note that this does not set a precedence.8. For Variance Approval Standards add: The Applicant did not create the situation; and, Other options involving a lesser variance has been considered.9. Extending nonconforming walls should require a variance processEnsure that our overall community is attractive.1. Cell Towers should not be a permitted use in the Neighborhood Commercial Zoning District. This district is "intended to provide for an environment of integrated residential development and small-scale commercial and service uses, predominantly serving nearby residential neighborhoods." Town Hall East was able to successfully deter a proposed cell tower in the Burlington commercial center due to notice of public hearing process.2. Increase the likelihood that required landscaping will survive either through a two-year landscape maintenance bond or irrigation.
Staff Reply:

Recommend Changes For Sequoyah Hills

Here are the changes I am recommending for Draft 3:- Additional Dwelling Unit (ADU) permits will only be issued to owner-occupant RN-1 and RN-2 parcels.- ADU permits will require one off-street parking space for every ADU bedroom in addition to the existing parking for the primary residence.- Remove the "special use" designation for "Dwelling 2-Family" use for RN-1 and RN-2 parcels.- Restore the 85' building height maximum to the C-G-3 parcel requirements.Here's why I'm making these recommendations:- RN-1 and RN-2 make up all the single family parcels in Sequoyah Hills and these recommendations attempt to ensure those properties are not bought up by investors and split up without regard to the neighborhood and without consequence to the property owner.- I understand and support the need for ADUs to provide for unique family situations and the urge of some residents of Sequoyah Hills to provide affordable housing for young parents to be part of our school district. I believe my recommendations will not interfere with these priorities.- The C-G-3 height requirement would apply to Western Plaza's zoning. This would still be in violation of paragraphs a.1.A and a.1.B of Title 54 Chapter 17 Part 1 of the 2017 Tennessee Code, which protects Tennessee's scenic highways and state law would supersede the zoning code, so in effect, the 85' would never be reached.- My deep, dark fear is that our neighborhood will be taken over by investors that chop up the real estate like they have in Fort Sanders.- I bought my house in Sequoyah Hills because I saw a "for sale" sign in the yard when I ran by it training for the Knoxville Marathon. I strongly believe that one of the common goods that raises the value of all our properties and increases the quality of all our lives is the walkability of Sequoyah Hills.
Staff Reply:

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