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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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.

Design Standards

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

Thank You For The Opportunity

I appreciate the opportunity to voice my opinion about the city zoning codes. However, I know I likely made some poor choices when filling out the survey due to my ignorance of the repercussions these choices would have on the larger picture. I do not like the idea of having tall structures or buildings along Broadway, but if it promotes better public transportation discourages some of the unattractive commercial buildings that we see around town, I might reconsider. One of my more pressing concerns is the profusion of check cashing establishments in our area (Fountain City/North Knoxville). These "businesses" prey on the people in our city who are not financially stable or fall on hard times due to a crisis. I would like to see Knoxville tell these types of businesses that they are no longer welcome. There are numerous cities across the country that have banned or regulated the number of check cashing, pay day loan, and title pawn businesses. Knoxville should become one as well.
Staff Reply:

Food Truck Generators

When businesses use food trucks they should be required to provide electrical hook-up to stop the generator noise. Some food trucks are obnoxiously loud.
Staff Reply:

Parking

We need to make sure that any commercial or multi-family development includes sufficient parking. People do not come to places where parking is a problem.We appear to have some bike lanes that extend only one or two blocks and do not connect to other bike-friendly roads, such as the bike lane on Knoxville zoo drive. These seem pointless. We need to think about usefulness when we create bike lanes.
Staff Reply:

Sidewalks

The need for sidewalks down broadway in fountain city is off the charts. Residents in scooters and those walking are at risk. So many businesses are very close, yet residents are forced to drive everywhere, increasing the need for parking and increasing heavy traffic snafus.
Staff Reply:

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