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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Increasing Housing Density

I want to see far more density in this zoning Recode. We need far more housing, especially within the 4 mile radius of downtown. Increasing building heights, and adding ADU's in existing neighborhoods is vital in order to achieve this. Moving to single family only perpetuates segregation within our city. Thank for your efforts, but we.need. more. Housing options!
Staff Reply:

Rezoning

Affordable housing is at crisis point for many people in Knoxville. Homelessness is on the rise in our city due to a lack of 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:

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.

Bring Back R3 And R4

Hi,I recently was reviewing the prosed recode map and I have some great concern over the removal of the orange on the map. Duplexes and multifamily complexes create affordable housing and without them, it will greatly hurt our city. Fixed supply with growing demand will increase property values to the point where they are no longer affordable. This will hurt 2 groups in particular. Those new to the work force graduating college and the creative class. College students graduate from UT every semester and consider staying in our city and calling it home. The city is trying to attract new businesses to our town. It creates jobs, brings in new tax dollars and helps all in our city thrive. Without affordable housing for the new work force, many will consider a new city to move to and without that work force, businesses will find our city less attractive to call home. Our amazing creative class also needs a place to call home. We have embraced the maker's city branding and would like to create a space for creatives and makers. They need affordable housing close to their businesses downtown and R3 and R4 do that. Please consider bringing back the orange to the map.
Staff Reply:

Recode Comments From The Knoxville Area Association Of Realtors

City Council Members:Please find attached materials outlining feedback from our association and our residential and commercial Realtor members.1. ADU memo - MLS stats and research on other municipality's ADU ordinances and experiences2. Missing Middle Housing - a global issue in Recode residential zones where current R-2 zones have been downzoned to proposed RN-2. Current R-2 should be rezoned to proposed RN-5, as stated in the Recode Residential Comparison Chart, to keep existing uses available in those areas. Also, the Recode map needs to be looked at critically across all residential zones in Knoxville to return these middle-housing opportunities to those areas (A local example included in the handout is the Magnolia corridor where current R-2 was downzoned to RN-2.).3. Keep Knoxville Affordable - a handout I received from Matt Sterling, with input from other groups who are concerned about downzoning and lack of affordable housing (not govt subsidized housing, but rather, housing a larger segment of our population can afford). Population projections suggest that the larger Knoxville/Knox County area will need to add (conservatively) upwards of 3-5 housing units per day to meet these growth needs. 4. Residential Top Issues - compares the proposed RN districts and asks the question why do we have 7 residential districts? (this is not meant to be a comprehensive list but some of the most important issues)5. Commercial & Industrial Top Issues - a bullet point list of key issues found in commercial, industrial, and other non-residential zones (this is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but a list of the most important issues we've collected from the active Realtor and developer community). Also, the Use Matrix in Section 9.2 should be looked at more closely to ensure we are not creating a greater number of nonconforming uses in these zones. Many comments I have received concern not where Recode Permits or allows Special Use, but where it does not allow either of these. Look at the blanks, where there is not a "P" or "S" use listed, ask why that box is blank and should it be filled; what problems are we creating by leaving out "P" and "S" uses in various zones? The design standards in Recode are protective enough that areas around commercial development will be protected, the building and lot will function well and have an acceptable appearance no matter the use inside the structure, to a large extent.Recode is quite an undertaking and I appreciate your tireless work on this project. Sorry for sending this so close to the workshop time; informational gathering for Recode has been a tremendous effort as I know you are aware. I am happy to address any concerns and questions you may have. Please feel free to contact me anytime.Best,Jennifer Roche, JD, RCEGovernmental Affairs DirectorKnoxville Area Association of Realtors609 Weisgarber Road, Knoxville, TN 37919
Staff Reply:

The Lack Of Duplexes

In response to the general consensus circulating... "If duplexes aren't being built, the market doesn't want/need them, so why are we trying to allow more of them?"For R1: Duplex allowed on Review w/ lot size minimum of 15,000 sq.ft.Most R1 neighborhoods are typically auto-oriented (non transit friendly) & suburban with larger homes on larger lots. The need for duplexes in those areas is low and naturally their occurrence is low. The assumption that the market signals are influencing the development of duplexes is likely true in most suburban R-1 zones.On the contrary, Oakwood, a walkable & transit-friendly neighborhood, is a mixture of R1 (IH-1) & R2. Lot sizes range from < 5000 sq.ft. to 7500+ sq.ft. A new duplex would require multiple lots, therefore they aren't done. There are however, many older duplexes that exist currently as represented by the"checker-board" of R1/R2 on the current zoning map. Building new would require up-zoning, special approval, and variances... therefore they aren't being built. For Oakwood, the market's need & desire has no way to respond because a duplex is, by-default, prohibited.[Moving forward RN-3 more appropriately represents the development pattern of Oakwood, and would allow more by right development & less special use approval for duplexes.]- - -R1-A: Duplex permitted by right w/ lot size minimum of 10,000 sq.ft.This district is well represented in our central-city neighborhoods. It is specified as"low to medium density" but"nearly 70% of lots [Zoned R1-A] do not meet the required 7,500 sq.ft. minimum lot area." (pg. 12 ReCode Technical Review Report) So although a duplex IS permitted on paper, it is prohibited in practice... as we see with Old North. Old North is another walkable & transit friendly neighborhood, with the the majority of lots being under the 10,000 sq.ft. required for a duplex. Again, the market's need & desire is unable to respond because a duplex is, by-default, prohibited.An abundance of multi-family structures at various scales exist currently in most of our R1-A transit friendly neighborhoods. These areas need a closer look and a smaller paintbrush to more appropriately zone them to reflect the development patterns that currently exist within them. We must ensure that our central-city neighborhoods are not a static ecosystem, but rather a dynamic one. We must ensure they're able to evolve over time, not radically, but incrementally.. to ensure they're meeting the needs of those who are currently there as well as those who will be there in the future.- - -R-2: Req'd lot size is 7500 sq.ft. for the first dwelling + 1500 sq.ft for each additional dwelling. Therefore a duplex would require 9000 sq.ft.This district is "medium-density" yet still not conducive for a duplex. "50% of the lot sizes within the R-2 district do NOT meet the required 7500 sq.ft. minimum lot standard." (pg. 12 - ReCode Technical Review Report) so very rarely would we see 9000 sq.ft. available for duplex construction. Again, duplexes aren't (and cannot be) built without special circumstance or multiple lot aquisitions, at which point it's more favorable to build two single family homes.A duplex is Small-Scale Development 101... an incremental step towards meeting the demand for housing within our transit-friendly neighborhoods. They're as easy to build & finance as a single family home (from a codes & lending standpoint). A duplex even provides opportunity & incentive for owner-occupancy, empowering more folks to invest & live in the neighborhoods they love. A duplex easily blends in with it's surroundings and provides housing opportunities at a scale that currently isn't available (and hasn't been allowed) within our transit friendly neighborhoods.The lack of recent Duplex construction/conversion is not based on market trends, citizen desires, or lack of profitability. This deficiency is directly tied to our present Zoning & Lot size requirements. To move Knoxville in a positive direction, it's imperative that we allow this age old tool of incremental development to be used once again within our transit friendly neighborhoods. ...and do so without a 2 space per unit parking minimum!Thank you for the consideration,
Staff Reply:

Application Of Rn-3 + Rn-4

As noted on page 13 in the Technical Review Report,The purpose of the RN-2 District is to, "accommodate development of single family homes on mid-size lots, with specific standards for duplexes as special use."The purpose of the RN-3 District is to, "accommodate single & two family residential development on smaller lots; multi-family permitted as special use."- - -In Draft 2, the minimum lot size for RN-2 was reduced to 5000 sq.ft. (respectively, a small lot size) to reduce the amount of non-conformities.Rather than more accurately representing many of our existing R-2 neighborhoods with RN-3, these neighborhoods were down-zoned and a special reduction in lot size was made to "make them conform" to a zoning designation that does not well represent what we see on the ground (a mix of single + two family dwellings as well as small-scale multi-family permitted as special use).A better reflection of the true development pattern & lot size of many of our current R-2 neighborhoods would be the application of RN-3.As written, this creates more instances requiring special use approval and limits by right development, both which are in direct opposition to "help facilitate more by-right development [and] reduce reliance on special approvals." (Technical Report Pg. 11)
Staff Reply:

Lighting Standards - Lumens At Lot Line?

10.2 - Exterior Lighting only specifies that fixtures must be a 75 degree cut-off luminaire and shield the light source from an observer 3.5 ft above the ground along an abutting lot line.This doesn't regulate the intensity (lumens or footcandle) of the light that comes across lot line. Intense lighting (say a couple of candlepower) would cross the lot line at a 15 degree down angle and then reflect off the ground surface. Even grass reflects that light some, but other surfaces such as a light concrete would significantly reflect the light up. This would put the burden on the adjacent lot owner to install non-reflective surfaces within the 13.5' area next to the lot line that a light source crossing 3.5' above the ground at the lot line would reach.By neglecting to specify a light intensity that crosses the lot line, another issue is caused. There is nothing that prohibits a brightly lit interior light source of a building from emitting light out and not being considered a luminaire. There's also nothing that prohibits a bright wall (say the lightly colored metal wall of a Dollar General store) to have a wall-pack light installed on it that reflects off the wall and causes a great deal of light trespass to adjacent lots.The ordinance should specify light trespass standards for all districts, not just SW districts.There needs to be a definition for "luminaire" in the definitions section as well, to ensure that it includes all exterior lighting, and not just luminaires mounted on poles. Example: wall mounted lighting, floodlights, etc. should be explicitly included in the definition.
Staff Reply:

Broadway Corridor Task Force - General Comments

The Broadway Corridor Task Force respectfully submits our general comments/requests regarding the Zoning Code below. We have compiled a formal document (which may be more legible with diagrams and text formatting) that also include our parcel and/or "area specific" comments which have been submitted/requested within the Draft 1 map over the past few weeks. We will send this complete document via email this evening (September 20th), once complete. Thank you, James Ryan & Kyle Anne Lang, BCTF Co-ChairsCOMMENTS OF SUPPORT:We support:- The allowance of mixed-use (residential over commercial/office) along the Broadway Corridor. - Build-To-Zones along Broadway in order to encourage a more 'urban edge' along the corridor, as well as force parking to be located at the side, or more preferably the rear of buildings.- Current landscape buffering requirements between commercial and residential properties. - Commercial Design Standards (especially in relation to the Broadway Corridor)- CN designation for properties along E Woodland, across from Physician's Regional Medical Center. (904 E Woodland; 1034 E Woodland)- CN designation used as a buffer between high density (and/or DK zoning) and single family residences, as well as appropriate pockets along a commercial corridor.- Reduced parking requirements for pedestrian-oriented zones (however request additional reductions, see below)GENERAL COMMENTS: Parking Requirements related to Transit and/or Transit Oriented DevelopmentIn addition to current parking requirement reductions as associated with C-N and certain C-G zones, we would ask MPC and Recode to consider a parking reduction for developments within a certain distance to a public transportation stop/center (IE the Broadway Shopping Center) to encourage more Transit-Oriented and Mixed-Use Development.? Office Space Inconsistent Setbacks, Change to C-G-2Office zoning along Broadway (and other urban corridors) should have minimum front, side, and rear setbacks that match adjacent Commercial parcels. C-N, and C-G-1, 2 and 3 all allow no minimum front setback or 0' - which would create strange conditions along corridor where one parcel may be Commercial and an adjacent one Office. This would not allow for a consistent 'urban edge' along the street, where one building may have a 0' setback, and then the adjacent building is required to step back 15' just because it is Office zoning. In looking further into the differences between Office and C-G-2 zoning, we see no reason why Office zoning is necessary along Broadway, and even noticed some non-compliance with proposed Office Zoning (for example, Independent Living facilities zoned Office that does not allow this use). Therefore, we request all currently proposed Office zoning along Broadway be zoned as C-G-2. In general, the BCTF questions whether an Office zone is a redundant zone to the new OP zone, since Offices are a compliant use within the C-G zones.If for some reason this change is not possible, we suggest an Office Zone subsidiary for urban corridors (such as O-2 or O-Urban) that has no minimum front setback, to allow for office zoning adjacent to C-N or C-G parcels to have the same setback, as well as allow no minimum interior side setback to allow for zero-lot lines when adjacent to Commercial zoning. We also request that the build-to zone match any neighboring property - in Broadway's case, generally C-G-2 - therefore a 0' to 10' build-to-zone. Potential allowances could/should be made for existing churches and historic residences that have been converted to office functions - however this may need to require historic overlays.Affected Office Properties Along Broadway (and Woodland):815 N Broadway; 215 Bearden Place (current use noncompliant as office); 901 N Broadway; 949 N Broadway; 826 N Broadway; 830 N Broadway; 834 N Broadway; 1207 N Broadway; 1216 N Broadway; 1303 N Broadway; 1323 N Broadway; 2909 N Broadway; 3101 N Broadway; 3111 N Broadway; 3127 N Broadway; 818 E Woodland; 1306 N Broadway; 2921 N BroadwayInstitutional ZoningCurrently institutional zoning does not have a 'build-to' requirement, and requires a 20' front and corner/side setback. This creates a similar condition to the above-mentioned Office zoning setbacks. For institutional parcels within an urban area or along an urban core (such as N Broadway) we request an institutional zone that has no front setback, but a 'build-to' requirement that would force new construction to align with the building face of adjacent C-G or Office properties. This would also force parking to occur behind or to the side of a building, as opposed to in front of it.Additionally, the Task Force has reservations related to the allowance of Homeless Shelters on Institutional-Zoned parcels. Due to the nuances related to N Broadway with relation to the Homeless, we request that Institutional Properties along N Broadway (especially the current Physician's Regional property) prohibit homeless shelters. Height Restrictions & Step-Back RequirementsWe believe maximum building height should be less related to zone (as in O, C-G, C-H), but where a parcel is located on the map, IE distance from downtown. In general, we would recommend that the maximum building height remain taller (or unlimited) downtown, and then step down outward from downtown accordingly.We recommend adding a height restriction to CG-3, perhaps 85' with review process if requesting over 85' and 130' maximum with review. The gap between C-G-2's 70' maximum height and C-G-3's unlimited maximum height seems too extreme. An intermediate is necessary, while limiting the unlimited height restriction to DK zones seems more appropriate.We request C-G-2 (or anything above 4-5 stories, or an appropriate height) to have a 'step-back' requirement, similar to the Cumberland District - whereas any floors above a certain height are required to step back. This will avoid the 'tunneling affect' along the corridor, and is similar to what larger cities like New York City enacted.I-MU Design StandardsI-MU should require Commercial Design Standards when redeveloped as mixed-use properties. Not allowing such standards would create a loop-hole for I-MU properties developed as mixed use as opposed to CG or DK zones. We recommend landscape screening requirements for commercial and/or office zones where the rear of the property abut a residential district. We recommend requiring infill commercial to align with existing building frontage/datum established by existing urban (pre-1950s) development.Parking Requirements related to C-G-2 and C-G-3Currently proposed is parking requirement reductions for pedestrian-oriented zones, which we agree with. However currently there is a 10% parking reduction for C-G-2, and a 20% parking reduction for G-G-3. We have requested and agreed with current proposals for C-G-2 along N Broadway namely due to the reduced height restraint - which is more in-keeping with a pedestrian oriented zone as opposed to unlimited (or taller) height restraints. If anything, these taller buildings will require more parking to serve their uses adequately, so it seems the reduction percentages are backwards - in that C-G-2 should allow a higher reduction than C-G-3, or it not at least the same.Therefore, we request C-G-2 allows for a 20% parking reduction to be equal to C-G-3. If this is not possible, we would request a separate C-G-3 subsidiary zone that maintains the higher parking reduction, while creating a lower height restriction.Homeless Shelters within C-G ZonesWe request the removal of Homeless shelters from the C-G zones, believing that their allowance within C-G and C-R zones is sufficient, if not more appropriate.Floodway Overlay ZoningThe current 'Floodway Overlay Zoning District' is noted as being "established to meet the needs of the streams to carry floodwaters of a 500-year frequency flood," however the map overlay district does not reflect the 500-year flood plain. We ask that you update your map to show the accurate 500-yr flood overlay (see below) to allow current and future property owners an accurate representation of where they will be able to construct new buildings and/or renovate existing structures that may be within the 500-year floodplain. Because a large portion of properties along the Broadway Corridor are within the 500-year floodplain, we ask the MPC, ReCode, and the City of Knoxville to create and/or utilize any possible zoning or administrative tools to allow for redevelopment within the flood zone, or at least more effectively communicate to property owners the restrictions they are faced with.As a result of potential miscommunication between the City, FEMA, and property owners, many are easily confused regarding current regulations, since their properties may have been constructed before the 500-yr floodplains (and therefore current restrictions) were established.
Staff Reply:

Recode Second Draft Comments

Section 5.4: Design Standards- Issue: What does 'substantial repair or rehabilitation' mean? "The following design standards apply tosubstantial repair or rehabilitation meant to remedy damage or deterioration of exterior façade"- Remedy: more clearly define when design standards would come into play; define 'substantial repair or rehabilitation'Table 5-2: Commercial Site Design- Issue: Surface parking location requirements are incompatible with current and reuse/redevelopment of many lots in O, C-N, C-G-2, C-G-3 districts (ex: L-shaped commercial strips, businesses that need loading/truck facilities on the rear of the lot). "Surface parking may not be located between the principal building and the front lot line. Parking must be located to the side or rear of the principal building [in O, C-n, C-G-2, C-G-3 districts]."- Remedy: Remove this as a requirement and instead use it as a possible incentive in Section 5.3.B and other incentive sections. Staff has recommended incorporating current parking requirements without change; this would be a significant change.8.4 Hillside Protection Overlay Zoning District- In order to facilitate reuse and redevelopment of small-scale and larger-scale commercial/industrial areas, apply this overlay only to residential zones.Table 9-1: Use Matrix- Issue: "Bar" and "Restaurant" were combined into "Eating and Drinking Establishment" and "Restaurant" was removed as "P" in O and C-N districts. This will transform numerous restaurants from "P" to "S" in C-N (ex: Plaid Apron in C-N, Sequoyah Hills neighborhood) and create nonconformities in O district. It could create more pushback when an "Eating and Drinking Establishment" is requesting "S" in C-N in the future.- Remedy: Remove "Eating and Drinking Establishment" and reestablish "Bar" and "Restaurant" as separate uses.- Issue: "Medical/Dental Office" was downzoned from "P" to "S" in C-N. These are currently "P" in C-N.- Remedy: Return to "P" use in C-N.Parking and Landscaping- Please keep with staff recommendation that existing parking and landscaping requirements be incorporated into Recode, and that the landscaping bond be removed.15.D.3.h Planned Development- Issue: More clearly define "affordable housing" set-asides.- Remedy: Provide a threshold of rental or purchase price based on existing market and population data or government guidelines. Do not require "affordable housing" to be government-approved/subsidized.16.2.D Nonconforming Use- Issue: "Discontinuation or Abandonment" as it currently reads is unclear and does not reflect general market conditions for reuse and redevelopment of real property.- Remedy: Provide a definition for "Discontinuation or Abandonment", increase "six months" period to at least 18 months to reflect commercial property general market conditions, and add in a language that being "actively marketed for lease or sale" is not considered "Discontinuation or Abandonment".Thanks for considering my comments. This is not an easy task.
Staff Reply:

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