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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Neighborhood Safety

I'm fine with multi-family units in residential areas as long as stricter regulations are enforced to keep slumlords from renting out to people who sell drugs or partake in other criminal lifestyles. The neighborhood I live in has been plagued with an increase in crime rate these past 6mos and it always traces back to rental properties and the section 8 houses in the area. People here are now afraid to let their kids and animals go outside in fear that they'll be shot by stray bullets from the battles going on between different crack houses that have started considering themselves as part of gangs and then the police don't show up for hours, if at all. I bought my house 2yrs ago and am now starting to regret putting roots down in Knoxville.
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Rezoning

Please consider more flexibility and guidance for building tiny or very small homes in blighted areas as a way to increase affordable housing.
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Zoning

Seems to me that Zoning serves only one meister: fear. In cities like Asheville, vacant city lots go for $30k or more. We can't even give them away here. I look forward to the day when we stop using armed force and instead use peaceful means to engage diversity.
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Roads

I think a concerted effort needs to be made to widen all secondary and connector roads. They are dangerous to foot traffic, bicycles, and automobile traffic. To have the percentage of such narrow roads and absolutely no shoulders is, in my opinion, restricting not only commercial and residential growth but also restricting other means of travel/commuting aside from auto, e.g. biking and walking for fear of getting run over.
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(no Title)

I love my house in 4th and gill..We were in the process of establishing a winter home , Husband died 2012. I love my house,but I am still resolving property elsewhere.
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Multi-family Properties

I am a real estate agent, past resident of Knox County, graduate of Knox County Schools, and a current owner of a duplex in Knox County. I find it onerous that duplexes are taxed as commercial property, especially considering that the property can not be used for any purpose that would ordinarily be considered a commercial activity. This needlessly increases the expense involved in owning such a property while making it difficult to provide affordable housing.
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Zoning Codes

Looking to the future--I would like for the planning commission to re-consider zoning provisions that allow crematories at funeral homes. As a resident of Fountain City, I am appalled and still outraged at how the city MPC, permitting, and City Council handled the Gentry-Griffey funeral home's supposedly secondary use permit for a crematory addition. Apparently no one at the city checks to see if cremations are indeed the secondary use. Gentry-Griffey (owned by an LLC) contracts with several counties to cremate remains of indigents and remains from the medical examiner's office. According to my daily look at the Sentinel's obit pages, Gentry-Griffey doesn't do many funerals, so how could they stay in business if cremation is not their primary business? If Gentry-Griffey's cremations are not secondary, but primary, should their permit not be revoked and a fine imposed? The new zoning provisions passed a few years ago (after the hurried, non-public approval of Gentry-Griffey's 24 hour, 7 day a week permit was issued and then opposed by a citizen group in Fountain City) now allow crematories at any funeral home, no matter the zoning, I can imagine that we could have a couple more crematories in Fountain City (in that there are several funeral homes here) and we could then kiss Fountain City's neighborhoods' ambiance goodbye. Such a shame the current state of this zoning puts us in! My biggest problem with Knoxville's zoning is that it is not enforced. Inspections and reports should be made, especially in cases of secondary use permits.As to your survey, some questions/proposed responses were ambiguous. I tried to respond in a way that reflects my view that neighborhood integrity should be honored, businesses should have to respect residents' reasonable wishes (as to appearance, addition of or re-purposing of commercial buildings, addition of multi-family buildings, to name a few.Thank you for providing the survey. I am signing up for the newsletter.
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Survey

The survey is great. Glad we are starting to think "outside the box". It is likely that some survey takers will feel the questions lead to the desired responses. I felt that way but agree with where the questions led me.
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Survey Methodology

While I am likely in favor of whatever progressive ideas and goals Recode Knoxville is proposing, I thought the survey was biased. Rather than appearing open to the various ideas and opinions that respondents and the public might have, for several questions, the survey taker was asked to agree or disagree with seemingly positive improvements. If the intent of the survey is to gather the ideas from respondents about different municipal ideas and proposals, then ask for the ideas those respondents might have, or set up a fair Likert scale to gauge one's interest in various ideas. For example, take this question: "Do you support expanding corridors, which were originally [but it read "thoughtlessly"] made for cars, in order to support transportation for bicycles and pedestrians?" It forces someone with a different perspective to disagree, which is an unfair set-up. Instead, a more fair question would ask, "Do you favor future corridor development that favors vehicles or non-automotive transportation?" In this way, the respondent can offer a response to a question that genuinely requests their ideas and opinion.Just something to keep in mind for future survey development. If you truly want others' honest opinions and ideas, then ask for them. Insinuating appropriate or inappropriate responses through biased instrument construction is unlikely to get others on your side.My two cents.
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Zoning Regulations

We desperately need sidewalks to connect neighborhoods to each other and to commercial districts for food and entertainment. We also need to bury utilities instead of cutting down trees around the utility lines. This is a never ending cycle. If we make the initial investment (albeit an expensive one) it will pay off in the long run. Obviously the annual expense of tree trimming will be less but it will add value to community both aesthetically and will attract more businesses in the long run. We want to keep Knoxville beautiful and if we keep massacring trees this is not possible!!
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No Short Term Rentals!!

I am COMPLETELY against any short term rentals being allowed in R-1 residential neighborhoods. That would NOT BE A GOOD THING!
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Knoxville Is Great!

I love living in Knoxville. The parks, bicycle lanes, greenways...everything is lovely here. Thanks for all you do.
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Zoning

I think this is a great effort! I was chair of the city's BZA a few years back and the Code does need to be thrown out and replaced in whole. During my tenure we gave variances for add-ons in Fourth and Gill simply because the owner would otherwise be obligated to follow setbacks designed for West Hills. We granted a number of reduced parking variances that have had no adverse consequences in the intervening years. The variance process, however, is ultimately not a good method for getting the right results for the city. It is expensive, time-consuming, and unpredictable. I'm glad the city is undertaking this important initiative.
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Survey Follow-up

I think one of the most important things to consider in the development of new ordinances is the impact they will have on poorer neighborhoods. Renovation of old buildings is important when it leads to safer structures and vitalized neighborhoods, but when the cost of that is the well-to-do driving out the poor no good has been accomplished.
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(no Title)

As zoning laws should be more neighborhood specific and more strict... It should all be more transparent, easier to understand, with less red tape for small business. In my history, I have watched small businesses (including myself) walk into projects blindly and pay dearly. Information and clarity should be more easily available to the business community.
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Sun And Lights

Existing houses and buildings should have their amount of sunlight protected from new buildings either in front or behind them, therefore a new building across the street should not interfere with the amount of sunlight your house gets. A good example is the big apt. complex on the 1700 block of White avenue blocking the winter sunlight from coming in the windows of the old 'Hawkeyes" building across the street.Also, I would be in favor of 'low light' regulations for nighttime lighting both public and private. Flagstaff, AZ has done a good job at this.Thanks!
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Notification

Do you have a facebook page or other Social Media that can keep me updated as to what's being built in the area? or what is going on in the area? I often do not hear of anything going on along Rutledge Pike. Would be nice if "noise makers" i.e. KPD can provide notice when they are going through a recruiting class at the Cement Plant Road location. It seems that our area gets overlooked a lot!
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Transformation Of Landscapes And Urban Ecosystems

I am a native and resident of Knoxville, and very proud to be from here. Actually, in technical terms for most of my life I have not lived in the city limits of Knoxville, and am currently living at my family's house where I grew up, in South Knox County off of Sevierville Pike. Nonetheless, my whole upbringing and the lion's share of my life has been in and around this city, which I love so much and have boundless affection for. I am only 30 years old, and I can say gladly how many good changes Knoxville has gone through as a community in my lifetime, and how many more good ones seem to be bubbling up- there is an enthusiasm and a pride in who we are and what we are capable of that is enormously heartening. I went to the introductory public meeting for Recode Knoxville, and was impressed by what I saw, both by the private consultants that the city is using, and by Mayor Rogero and the other city officials who were there. I was not aware that it had been 60 years (60!) since the city had set up its codes laws last, and it's definitely overdue to update them for the current age we're in. I am writing you guys about my general views and perspective of the kind of attitude I'd like to see the new codes laws have, particularly around land use and the urban landscape looks. I consider myself very passionate and concerned about the wellbeing and health of our natural environment, but for me that goes much farther and deeper than simply being an "environmentalist". I understand that the future of the human species and of people here in East Tennessee inextricably depends on how healthy and well balanced the whole ecosystem is. Besides all that, these mountains and rivers and valleys and ridges that make up our native landscape are unspeakably beautiful, and a wise community- such as Knoxville- should integrate that beauty and wholeness into how we imagine our city to look like and feel like in the future. I have traveled a fair bit, been in a number of other countries around the world, and in a lot of parts of the United States- as well as in many places around East Tennessee. There are a lot of different ways for cities and towns and human settlements to look and be laid out, and a lot of different ways for them to coexist in harmony with their natural environment. I would like to see a Knoxville of the future have a greater degree of openness and flexibility with, amongst other things, Urban Farming and agriculture, including small livestock (and I'm aware of the process recently in Knoxville around Urban Ag regs); intensive gardening and landscaping including in residential neighborhoods, especially native, perennial plants that benefit wildlife as well as people; edible landscaping; alternatives for wastewater treatment including greywater, composting toilets, neighborhood scale wetlands for biowaste; household and neighborhood scale rainwater catchment; small scale Urban forestry on private property, with proper guidelines; encouragement of local entrepreneurs in "green" land-based businesses, such as urban ag and gardening, plant nurseries, composting, high end products such as breweries using grains and crops grown in the city, or bakeries using flour made from grain grown in the city. Or even the flour/corn/grain mill itself! I understand that this is all extremely ambitious, and probably on the far edge of what is currently considered possible in urban planning amongst American cities. Nonetheless, I truly believe that in these times, we are all called to think well outside the normal "box" for what a city may look like or consist of, and after spending most of the last century designing almost everything around separation of uses- divided into residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, etc.- and around the car, it is time to take a different route. I am by no means an expert in Sustainable Urban design or planning, but I have been interested in these issues for a long enough time, and heard from a lot of people far smarter and more informed than me about what the possibilities are out there for transformation of our cities into much more holistically ecological, sustainable, and also beautiful places. Beauty, and natural beauty interacting with the beauty of human made landscapes, can never be discounted. Who wants to live in a city that has no beauty, after all.... even if the city is considered to be economically "successful"? I'm sure that there are a number of people currently involved in the design process who are already talking about these large issues of land use and sustainable design; I was very glad to hear that Brenna Wright of Abbey Fields Farm is on the Stakeholder Advisory Committee- I got to know Brenna a couple years ago when she was first starting her farm, and consider her a real leader in promoting new ideas about what the urban landscape could be, environmentally, socially, and economically. I mostly wanted to write you this message to really nudge the folks involved in this process to really take a look at all the possibilities for sustainable, ecologically wise design in the urban context, and to keep expanding the proverbial "box" of what is considered doable and viable. We've only got this one precious planet, so let's do our best to work together to make it a place that is a healthy, nourishing, and beautiful home for all of us. Thanks so much for reading!
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Walk/bike Trails

I have lived in Snohomish, WA (Centennial Trail) and Hudson, OH (Ohio and Erie Canal and connecting trails). My kids and I really enjoyed the trails to walk and bike, especially when we could access them directly from our house, without having to load up bikes. I don't have the vehicle space to load so many bikes in one trip, so we never used the trails here, except to walk on. I wish we had more opportunities to get around town here.I work at UT Medical Center. I believe a first priority should be to make a trail accessible from the KAT bus or for people to bike to work, without fear of getting run over on Cherokee Trail.In the same breath, I have concerns about forging new trails. A former railroad bed borders my backyard, directly from a park. If the city decides to utilize that space, how will my property be protected?
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Park & Ride

I have reached out to KAT, UTK, and the North Knox Chamber, but received no response from anyone. I would love to see a strategic express route park & ride for UTK & downtown added in the Northeast. I have suggested a partnership with East Towne mall which could aid traffic to the mall and has ample parking. Otherwise a North Broadway location in the general area of Kroger would also be ideal.
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Bike Lanes/sidwalks On Papermill

I think that ALL of papermill should have bike lanes and sidewalks. there's a small portion of sidewalk that goes from pond gap elementary to elevation apartments, and then again at coleman road to the greenway, but you have to walk on the sides of the road otherwise -- this is especially bad on the portion of papermill after i-40, you basically can't walk or bike to mckay's books or whole foods because the road is so narrow and just drops off on the edges, I wouldn't bike there...if someone isn't paying attention, you're in the ditch.
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What Does This Even Mean?

What does this even mean? "Our current zoning ordinance is very rigid and in some cases prevents neighborhoods from achieving their full potential. An updated ordinance can protect the things we value about our neighborhoods and commercial areas while allowing the kinds of smart, sustainable growth that will move Knoxville Forward" What is the definition of full potential, and give me three neighborhood examples of full potential. You're telling me that we can't build sidewalks in neighborhoods? Is this the "full potential?" What are three examples of "smart" growth in a neighborhood in Knoxville. What are three examples of "sustainable growth" in a neighborhood here.
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Thanks for your comments regarding the updating of the City of Knoxville’s zoning ordinance. In response to your question regarding building sidewalks in neighborhoods, the short answer is no, the City cannot build sidewalks in all existing neighborhoods that lack them. The cost of retrofitting sidewalks (constructing them after development of the property occurs) is at a minimum $250 -$350 per linear foot. This cost covers land acquisition, design, grading, construction, stormwater drainage, utility relocation, and related costs. The cost of addressing all sidewalks identified on the City’s current priority list is approximately $150 Million. The cost to provide sidewalks on both sides of all streets in the City currently lacking them is at least $3 Billion. So no, the City cannot build sidewalks in all neighborhoods. The City is taking a pragmatic approach to sidewalk construction: budgeting more money for sidewalk construction and maintenance; beginning the development of a pedestrian priority plan that will identify and rank sidewalk needs so that future funding can be allocated to the greatest identified need; and drafting an ordinance that would require sidewalk construction when new development and major redevelopment occurs in the City.I will provide a couple examples of combined smart/sustainable development as in my opinion they are the same thing. The first example is the redevelopment of a vacant building at the corner of Sevierville Pike and Lancaster Drive to house a restaurant. An abandoned existing structure was repurposed for a use that serves the neighborhood and the broader community. The parking area is constructed of previous pavers and the site is well landscaped. The redevelopment of this property in a smart/sustainable manner will enable the building to be used for other purposes in the future should the current business relocate, close, or vacate the property for some other reason. Due to this thoughtful redevelopment, rather than a vacant building that detracts from the neighborhood there is a viable business at this location that serves and strengthens the neighborhood.Another example of smart/sustainable development is the redevelopment of the vacant building on Sevier Avenue that now houses Alliance Brewing and Three Bears Coffee. The redevelopment incorporated many sustainable features that will reduce its environmental footprint, from lighting to pavement materials. Once again, rather than a vacant building that detracts from the neighborhood this location now houses thriving businesses that serve and enhance the neighborhood.An example of a redevelopment made challenging by the current zoning ordinance, and thus difficult to reach the neighborhood’s full potential, is provided by the property at the corner of Broadway and East Glenwood Avenue. The City’s current zoning code requires significant parking (40 – 45 parking spaces) for the businesses in this building. Given the size of the property there is no way the current parking requirements could be met. In addition, the setback requirements in the current ordinance for this zoning district (25 feet front and side, 15 feet rear) make the existing building non-conforming. In order to redevelop this property, and assist in the neighborhood reaching its full potential, the owners had to incur the expense and delay of obtaining variances from the zoning requirements. An updated zoning code that acknowledged the character of existing neighborhoods will make it easier to redevelop properties such as this that serve neighborhoods and are easily accessible to neighborhood residents.With regard to neighborhoods reaching their full potential, I will provide a brief list of items that would be characteristics of a neighborhood that reached its full potential. Typical characteristics of a neighborhood that has reached its full potential are:
  • A variety of housing choices, from large single family homes to small apartments;
  • Access to transportation options, from private vehicles to transit to walking and biking;
  • Using vacant and blighted properties to provide amenities that are easily accessible to neighborhood residents. Examples of this include using vacant lots for mini-parks, children’s playgrounds, and/or community gardens.
  • Small commercial areas that are integrated into the neighborhood, of compatible scale, and that respect the neighborhood character.

Transparency Concern

I can't help wondering what side of the fence the team is on:* Congress for the New Urbanism - developing vibrant communitiesOR* Landscape Urbanism - promoters of expansive open spacesI tend to side with the New Urbanists. Landscape Urbanism turns its buildings away from the street in favor of frontages that consists mostly of greenery. Unless there is tremendous density, human beings will not walk. Some of my responses may be inconsistent with my favor of New Urbanism...because I want it both ways. I'll have to go with discouraging me from driving a car - electric or otherwise.Somehow we have to reconcile the habit driving our cars with the need to walk and take public transportation. We now have clusters of big box stores that cater to cars. I have heard people new to Knoxville buying houses in the outlying areas expressing that they are good as long as a Walmart is nearby.I share my friend's feelings about the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work. While rezoning Knoxville codes may be a complex ambition, keeping the outcome consistent with CNU values might go a long way toward connecting people in their homes and businesses. I had a wonderful childhood neighborhood experience at Petzold's Market Chicago, Illinois - where my father's family lived on the second floor. I would like the City of Knoxville to promote this type of community business.
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Merchandise Outside Of Your Business

I think putting used merchandise outside of your business is very trashy looking. It affects all businesses that are surrounded. I'm not a big fan at looking at used strollers, baby beds, numerous bicycles, and other used baby merchandise everyday. Also automobiles that haven't moved in years. In my opinion it makes the whole area look bad. Just my personal and business opinion. Thank -you. I would also like to know what the current amount of items you are aloud to display outside of ones business.
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Landscape Screening

I think there needs to be more enforcement of existing codes. For example, landscape screening is supposed to be required between a loading zone, and a residential area. Unfortunately, that's not enforced, and residents suffer the health consequences because of it. I go outside and see dump trucks and construction vehicles parked within feet of my home all day and all night. It sure doesn't look or smell "green" where I live.
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Incremental Growth, Prescriptive Historic Zoning & Mixed Use

The biggest impediments to sustainable growth in the current Knoxville code seem to be a series of overly prescriptive historic zoning overlays, a general lack of flexibility in terms of incremental growth and mixed use development. The historic zoning overlays, as currently written, exacerbate gentrification, and disallow the natural variation of architectural detailing and styles that should occur over time. A simpler form based code, which would generally maintain consistent massing, volumes and setbacks would go a long way toward incentivizing reinvestment in lower income historic neighborhoods at a price point that would minimize the massive shift in house prices that occurs when owners are forced to build oversized, imitative pseudo-historical single family houses.Similarly, the code currently restricts both mixed use and the inherent incrementality of growth which it allows. Even in historic neighborhood commercial centers, which have multi-story buildings which would have been mixed use, owners are restricted to commercial or residential use. Which again facilitates gentrification, as owner-operators that historically could have lived above their shops, must currently pay for a commercial space and a home. And usually, the affordable housing, and affordable commercial spaces are not in walkable neighborhoods, nor are they near each other, thereby further reinforcing the car dependent nature of current development patterns, and restricting opportunities for economic advancement by placing a de facto 'car tax' on anyone seeking to start a business.The new code should reflect historic realities, not myths. Real, functional, livable neighborhoods require a mix of both housing options and building types - with owners allowed to meet market demand by building, adding onto, and subdividing buildings and properties, instead of relying exclusively on large developers and tax subsidies to create multi-block, monolithic 'mixed-use' mega structures which tend to cater exclusively to the affluent. Further, healthy neighborhoods should be allowed to grow and change over time, both stylistically and socio-economically, rather than being forced to maintain an imaginary snapshot of one currently 'desirable' period in the neighborhood's history.
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