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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Zoning: Commercial Corridors & Building Height

Regarding the Commercial Corridors question: single family housing should not be encouraged in the corridor but commercial with residential above is a great way to keep neighborhoods safe and convenient for multifamily dwellings.Regarding height increases: 45' does seem a bit low but I would not want to see the heights increased by very much - the human scale is very important to maintain when attempting to encourage pedestrian friendliness (which is a form of equal opportunity design).
Staff Reply:

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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Zoning Considerations

I would prefer to see current single family neighborhoods retain their single family neighborhood status. Multifamily homes, apartment and condo complexes, and commercial buildings have destroyed the character of existing neighborhoods like Fort Sanders. I don't want that to happen in the area just north of downtown: LIncoln Park/Oakwood, Old North, Fourth and Gill, North Hills and its environs.
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Zoning Comment

I just filled out the survey. 1) dramatically reduce parking required2) mandate and retrofit neighborhood connectivity, especially for pedestrians3) require sidewalks everywhere4) require road design standards that force slow traffic. Require developers build calm streets in the first place. 25mph MAXIMUM design speed.
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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.
Staff Reply:

Zoning Code Survey

I attended the city's recent workshop on sustainability & liked the idea of developing the West Town site using the existing retail structure for that purpose while adding to its sustainability by building above the parking lot & existing structure. That site won't be viable if the amount of parking is reduced. Lack of convenient parking is a key factor in business survivability across the city.nnZoning codes regarding landscaping shouldn't be so restrictive as to dictate types of plants except as to tree height and root spread. Lawns are a luxury and substitute ground cover should be acceptable.nnCodes regarding lot sizes should be flexible enough to take into account today's tiny houses movement.
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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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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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Zoning

Tiny homes need to be allowable. Currently they are not.
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Zoning

Of recent interest to me is utility poles. We are beginning to have an epidemic of double poles and in some case triple poles as non electric lines fail to move to replaced poles. In many cases there has been no change in poles replaced multiple years ago. A solution needs to be found to resolve this issue. I would recommend credits back to the landowner of the double pole location paid for by the non- moved lines.Second, Is there any zoning regulations for the colors attached to utilities lines. AT&T is placing orange tags all over the city which are ugly. Who is to stop somebody from putting fluorescent yellow or purple next. If they are covered by zoning regulation and have not gotten permission please have them stop. The colors are for AT&T convenience. Black with white letters would work just as well.It might be nice to remind the citizens and law enforcement about the laws associated with obstructing a sidewalk.
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Zoning

One of your stated missions is to recognize the growing changes in Knoxville demography. Current County land just south of the City boundary (south of Knob Creek (off Martin Mill); north of John Sevier Hwy.; east of Knoxville Hwy. (Hwy 33); and west of Chapman Hwy.) comprises increasing-density residential that allows outdated County-zoned (and dangerous) uses. Commercial firing-range for sighting of guns is allowed (high powered rifles). Commercial dump truck operation is allowed where loaded dump trucks run curvy Martin Mill Pike continuously. A lot of septic drainfields are old and, new and old, should be added to city septic.This should be addressed but don't know if this review would include this.
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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.
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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.

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?
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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!!
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Use Of Existing Trees As Credit Toward Landscaping Requirements

This allowance should only be for species native to Knox County.
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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.
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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.
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Transportatuon

There's no public transportation past Cedar Bluff and it's difficult if you live out there and have a job in town. I would love to see it expanded and/or a commuter system for high volumn times from West and North to downtown.
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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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Transit

Knoxville is striving to become a greener City, but that cannot really happen as long as 97% of trips are made by car. Transit, biking and walking must be much more strongly encouraged. This is a safety issue, an air quality issue, and a climate change issue. Transit, while somewhat improved, is still not a viable option for many. Buses are in the same traffic as private autos and therefore do not provide a time advantage. With few exceptions, buses do not come into neighborhoods. I live inside the city limits of Knoxville, but the nearest bus stop is more than a mile from my house. Buses, or perhaps feeder buses should get with in 1/4 mile of residences, at least in the city. West of South Northshore and South of Kingston Pike biking is not an option for most because of heavy traffic.nnnnSo let's take the lead in reducing auto trips and becoming a greener, safer, more livable city.
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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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Too Little Parking Required New Commercial Development

I've noticed that that new commercial developments especially on Broadway in Fountain City, don't have adequate parking. These locations include the ones w that have Panera Bread, Fed-Ex, Chop House, Salsaritas and the newest one next to Chick-Fillet. It's difficult to find a parking space at certain times of the day.
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126 results found
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