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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Yard Definitions

I seem to remember a graphic that was used in one of the presentations I saw that showed how the city defines the space in a residential yard. The graphic showed the front and back yard as well as side and standoffs etc. I can't seem to find that graphic now. If it is no trouble and you can find it easily, could you send that to me.Is that going to change in the recode? If so what will the new definitions be?
Staff Reply:

Works For Me

At this time, I have not seen anything Recode-wise that I disagree with. We live in the Dogwood Elementary school area, and I agree with the zoning on the map (I think it was RN-2?). I lived in Atlanta for 9 years, and in my opinion, had Cobb and the surrounding metro counties done this very thing in the 1990s, Atlanta would not be the hellish Mad-Max-esque traffic sprawl wasteland that it is. As cities grow, especially around downtown, density WILL increase. So, why don't we plan for it now, so we won't be scrambling 20 years in the future? I want and need drivability, but I also want less pollution and walkability. I think we can have both.I'm also not scared by fear-mongering good ole boys who keep crowing that Recode is gonna take our cars and prop'ty away! Good grief.Thanks for your time.
Staff Reply:

Work At Home

Code should be modified to allow work at home provisions regardless of the zoning provided no adverse impact on those living within the neighborhood including no additional traffic, no additional on-street parking, no additional visible storage or equipment on the property or along the street, no additional noise created by the business.Not sure if noise provisions are currently incorporated in zoning. If not they should be.I'm also not sure what provisions are currently incorporated to define and eliminate nuisances.
Staff Reply:

Wireless Towers

Well, with all these changes to the zoning and coding, this should make it easier for the City to put up those ugly, radiation-inducing, "cell" towers that they plan to roll out for 5G. Be prepared citizens of Knoxville, they will be everywhere and there will be no escaping them. We - humans, animals, insects, and plant life will be fried. People will be getting sick from the electromagnetic radiation EVERYWHERE. With all these changes, I'm sure somewhere in all the wording, it will be legal for them to put one in your yard. I see a class action lawsuit in the future!

Staff Reply:

Will Taxes Go Up?

We are at 8701 Unicorn Dr. Right now we are zoned commercial. The current proposal has us going to mixed use. Will that make the taxes for this property go up?
Staff Reply:

Will Taxes Go Up?

We are at 8701 Unicorn Dr. Right now we are zoned commercial. The current proposal has us going to mixed use. Will that make the taxes for this property go up?

Staff Reply:

The tax assessment of a property is determined by the use rather than the zoning. The expanded zoning designation should have no impact on your taxes.

Why Recode? False Assumptions

City officials claim that the reason for recode is to help housing affordability by increasing density. According to "bestplaces.net" Knoxville's cost of living factor is 81.4 which is well below the the national average indicated as 100. They attribute this low factor to our LOW HOUSING COST which they give as 63. The State average is 73 which is still well below the National average of 100. The city then argues several conflicting points. They on one hand suggest Accessory Dwelling Units will lower housing cost then in the same breadth argue that no one will exercise their right to build one as past evidence suggests. They then argue folks can currently have a duplex under R-1 as a "use on review" but few people exercise that right. Given their arguments why then is there a need for ADU's? Furthermore to build a freestanding 1000 sg.ft. ADU would likely cost over $174,000.00 well above the current median single family house price in Knoxville. While the current zoning in R-1 does afford the possibility of a duplex the "use on review" feature is a critical deterrent from your neighbor/investor building a rental unit next to your home. You would have the right to protest the use change at a public hearing of citizens. To automatically allow ADU's givers the neighbors NO rights to protest. I for one love my low density single family neighborhood with my right of quite enjoyment. I do not want rental units or Air B&B's next to my home and the congestion that higher density brings. Go to Nashville to see what density has done to traffic and strained city services such as schools and look at how their home prices have skyrocketed!
Staff Reply:

What?? Keep 4 & G Zoning The Same

I am a relatively new resident of 4 & G, having bought an extreme fixer-upper in July of 2017. It was rental for years and in horrible shape. I've now spent about $100,000 and it's a credit to the neighborhood. I do not want the neighborhood's zoning to change to higher density. The whole history of these close in neighborhoods is simple - they were prominent, they declined and now they have come back or are coming back. A big part of the decline was the changing of large single family residences into multi-unit. During the last couple of decades, that has been reversed, restoring the neighborhood to its original pattern of human settlement. DON'T LET'S GO BACK. Everytime I have lived anywhere where there's been a problem house, it's typically been rental and with "young people" who like to party and drink. I want to live in a quiet residential neighborhood. I don't want to have to fight for parking, listen to somebody else's music at 1:00 a.m. I live here, I vote, I have invested - keep our zoning the same.
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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.
Staff Reply:
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.

We Need More Options For Affordable Housing!

Bring Back the Orange! in our core neighborhoods by utilizing RN-3,4, and 5 zones to allow for a greater range of housing choices in walkable, bus-friendly neighborhoods. Please adopt appropriate zoning & standards to encourage good design, scale, and development in a manner that will protect our neighborhoods while still allowing them to evolve.
Staff Reply:

Wasteful Spending

Too many parks and greenways, You should do full studies of what age groups, and how many people use these facilities. The streets were made to drive on. Fix the pot holes. Pave the roads, they are in terrible shape. Stop wasting money on bicycle lanes, and unnecessary landscaping.Stop bringing in outside "experts" from big cities that don understand what the taxpayers really want
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Walkability/public Transit And Mixed Use

It is extremely important to my sense of wellbeing as a Knoxville resident that we emphasize different modes of transport, including facilities for pedestrian, bicycle, scooters, busses and potentially other public transport.i fully support the COKs sidewalk investments and moves towards mixed use neighborhoods.
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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?
Staff Reply:

Very Old Houses & Multifamily Zoning

While the current Recode map is improved, there are some issues that still need to be addressed in the oldest neighborhoods (those with houses 100± years old). If houses in these neighborhoods are slated to be made into multi-family units, there MUST be required oversight from professionals who have demonstrated knowledge with older home construction. It is in no one's best interest to continue to demolish houses that become condemned because of "renovations" made by using construction techniques that are not adequate or appropriate for these older homes. The current flurry of "renovation" activity by "flippers" in these neighborhoods (Parkridge is one example) is showing that City codes enforcement is not able to prevent structural damage to older homes. There already is a proposed lawsuit because the exterior walls are collapsing on a house in which the framework was compromised by removing load bearing walls and collar ties.Not only is this problem frightening for the new occupants/owners of such unsafe houses, it is frightening for the older neighborhoods that have struggled to rebound from serious blight created by derelict and condemned houses. The history of neighborhood decline that led to condemnation and subsequent demolition of many older homes was directly related to dividing these older homes into multiple apartments. The structural integrity of houses often was compromised by cutting holes in floor joists and rafters for the sake of running multiple pipes, vents, and wiring to accommodate multiple bathrooms, kitchens, and HVAC systems in houses that originally were built without these kinds of modern conveniences - even for one family. Floor plans also were changed to make apartments, porches were enclosed (even sleeping porches, aka balconies), and additions tacked on to make additional rooms. Anyone who has seen, or worked on, one of these houses knows that there either was little to no oversight from codes enforcement, or adequate codes did not exist when such changes were made.A requirement that before a building permit is issued, an architect or engineer (or both) has to sign off on any plans that propose dividing a house that was constructed as single family home and is 80 or more years old, or is a contributing structure in a National Register of Historic Places District, is one way these problems might be lessened. There simply MUST be a process for someone with demonstrated knowledge about older house construction to review plans (including a site visit) proposed for the substantial changes that have to be made to safely create multiple apartments in these very old houses. In addition, there is a need for opinions from two engineers as to whether or not one of these old homes has to be demolished. Very few of them were built with the kinds of foundations that are used today and some are being unnecessarily demolished because some engineers do not know about the older methods.
Staff Reply:

Various Aspects Of Recode

LandscapingI would like to wholeheartedly endorse the call by Scenic Knoxville for stricter landscaping standards in the new zoning code. Parking lots are a necessity, but the kind of visual ugliness they introduce into the urban scene can be ameliorated by islands of vegetation and the plantings help to balance out the negative environmental effects of the automobiles parked there. Likewise their recommendation of Performance and Maintenance Bonds is sound, since without such guarantees there is no protection against substandard installation work or neglect of maintenance. Last year Town Hall East secured an agreement with Dollar General that they would install landscaping at their new store of Boyds Bridge Pike. They spent money on installation but do not seem to have expended a penny on upkeep since then, and crabgrass obscures the low growing shrubs. Transparency.I am concerned that issues surrounding notification of neighbors for use on review that have been raised by the Community Forum and League of Women Voters have not been resolved in a way that insures the greatest transparency and a required degree of community participation in reaching a decision.Accessory Dwelling UnitsPlease continue to push for the automatic right to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit as included in Draft 3. Owner occupancy of one of the units would be an acceptable limitation.Thank you for your hard work in this process.
Staff Reply:

Vacant Buildings Down Chapman Hwy

There are several empty old business that line all the way down chapman highway that could help boost the economy of this town if they were cleaned up and used to bring business (local and nonlocal). At a glance the majority of Chapman highway is run down and an ugly site to look at. If this area were to be cleaned up that could bring many new businesses and possible new places of residency could help give local residents and college students more options without having to sacrifice being away from businesses. This area is horrible and needs to be cleaned up!!
Staff Reply:

Use Of Existing Trees As Credit Toward Landscaping Requirements

This allowance should only be for species native to Knox County.
Staff Reply:

Use Of Existing Trees As Credit Toward Landscaping

I wish to amend my previous statement. This credit should be allowed only for tree species that are native to Knox County or non-natives specimens that have an established history of use over many decades without any demonstration of colonization, reproduction or invasive tendencies. Non-natives should only be allowed when passing this very high hurdle. An example of a tree that should be allowed for the credit would be a bald cypress, a weeping willow, or a white cedar. Examples of non-natives that should not be allowed are any of the non-native mulberries, princess tree, and those terrible little European hornbeams that are popping up everywhere (they are showing invasive tendencies!!). Knoxville should get its house together in regard to being a "real" tree city and start focusing on native species of trees, flowers and grasses, reclaiming roadsides and small woodlot spaces to promote pollinator and wildlife habitat. We have serious invasives problems and need to get real about it. In 40 years, the precious "urban wilderness" is going to be a deadscape of non-native vines and shrubs. Your forest is dying all around you and you don't notice, because everything is green. Deal with the kudzu patches, the wintercreeper, the privet and bush honeysuckle, the English ivy, etc, etc., or watch your forests die.
Staff Reply:

Typos

Check 10-14 in the Draft 2.0, Section Z.2 c & d for typos. See below...c. Maximum height is the total height of the turbine system as measured from the base of the tower to the top. For [horizontal] axis turbines, the maximum vertical height of the turbine blades is measured as the length of a prop at maximum vertical rotation.d. No portion of exposed turbine blades (vertical [axis] wind turbine) may be within 20 feet of the ground. Unexposed turbine blades (horizontal [axis] wind turbine) may be within ten feet of the ground.
Staff Reply:

Typo On This Page

There is at typo on the submission page, "Use can this form to submit a comment or question for the project staff or send an email directly to recode@knoxplanning.org."

Staff Reply:

Trees & Power Lines

KUB trims the trees along the side of the roads and cuts a lot of the trees in half because of the power lines. I understand the reasons for this but you can clearly see that the remainder of the tree that is left is now a hazard to the community. Perhaps the answer is to re due the power lines in heavily populated ares underground.
Staff Reply:

Tree Topping In H-1 Historic Overlay Zones

It would be very difficult to outlaw the practice of Tree Topping for the entire community. However, it may be possible to outlaw the practice in the H-1 Historic Overlay Zones of the city. Topping in the sense of old time round over cutting of branches, removing most, if not all of the crown of trees in a manner not consistent with International Society of Arboriculture ANSI rules pertaining to tree pruning.-This practice devalues trees and properties.-This practice shortens the lives of otherwise healthy trees.-This practice opens healthy trees up to future decay, rot, and hollow. -The practice is not considered proper tree work within modern practices.-This ordinance would pertain to all trees, of all sizes except fruit trees being pruned for fruit production.It also would exempt old trees being vetranized in an effort to save them. This would be done with the authorization of the Knoxville City Arborist on a case by case basis.
Staff Reply:

Tree Protection Ordinance

Knoxville has a Tree Protection Ordinance. Is there a reason why this wasn't included in the Recode draft? Also, rather than saying invasive plant species aren't allowed, can the ordinance link to a list of invasive species and state that anything on the list is prohibited?
Staff Reply:

Tree Mitigation Bank

We think it's important that Knoxville's zoning code includes a provision for a Tree Mitigation Bank. This Bank would garner additional funds for the COK to use for landscaping on public property. It would also level the playing field by insuring that all developers were responsible for the same costs for equivalent development. We propose the following amendment be added to Article 12. LANDSCAPE

12.10 TREE MITIGATION BANK

The Tree Mitigation Bank is established as an alternative to maintaining or planting required trees and landscaping as specified in the Tree Protection Ordinance and in Article 12 of the zoning ordinance. Costs will accrue to the applicant to the degree it is not possible to maintain, replace or plant required trees and landscaping. The Tree Mitigation Bank provides a method of compliance in circumstances when the on-site maintenance and planting of required trees and landscaping is not possible due to site constraints, or for the mitigation of violations.

Funds paid into the Tree Mitigation Bank will be used for the sole purpose of planting trees and landscaping on public grounds and rights-of-way. The City of Knoxville urban forester will administer the account and determine when and where trees and landscaping are to be planted.

A.  When a strict application of the landscaping requirements or the use of an Alternative Landscape Design would require unreasonable compliance, an applicant may request  permission to contribute to the Tree Mitigation Bank instead. Such situations could include water features, topography, lot configurations, utility maintenance zones, or unusual site conditions.

B.  To use the Tree Mitigation Bank, the applicant must submit a Tree Mitigation Bank request that includes a list of landscaping requirements unable to be met and the specific reasons why they cannot be met. The request must be submitted to and approved by the Administrative Review Committee. The Administrative Review Committee will determine the extent to which requirements cannot be met and contributions to the Tree Mitigation Bank can be substituted.

C.  Final permission to contribute to the Tree Mitigation Bank requires the Zoning Administrator's approval concurrent with the application process for the development.
 
D.  Required contributions are based on current economics and can be determined by referring to.... on the City of Knoxville website.

Prepared by:
Scenic Knoxville
Trees Knoxville
The City of Knoxville Tree Board
The Knoxville Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects
Sierra Club, Harvey Broome Group

Also endorsed by:
Town Hall East
Forest Heights Neighborhood Association
Community Forum
The Bearden Village Council
The Riverside 1 Condos
Historic Fourth and Gill Neighborhood Organization
Kingston Pike Sequoyah Hills Neighborhood Association
Alice Bell Spring Hill Neighborhood Association
League of Women Voters of Knoxville and Knox County
RiverHill Gateway Neighborhood Association

Staff Reply:

Tree Mitigation

I would like to suggest Knoxville consider developing and implementing some form of mitigation for the destruction of trees by developers, perhaps along the lines of how TDEC operates its stream and wetlands mitigation program. In the case of tree protection, the ordinance could specify that for each tree destroyed over a particular dbh, X number of trees of 2" caliper have to be planted; or, a value of the destroyed trees could be established and the developer pay the equivalent value into a mitigation bank, with the city using the funds for planting or landscaping projects.Harvey Broome GroupSierra Club
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