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 Concerns

Hello--I'd like to submit my concerns about the lack of multi-family home zoning (R-3 and R-4) in the ReCode Knoxville plan. In their place, almost all proposed residential zoning is single-family. Single-family zoning restrictions are intrinsically linked with redlining, gentrification, greater environmental impact, reduced walkability, reduced access to parks and schools, and inhibition of the commercial centers (like grocers and pharmacists) that make neighborhoods both desirable and accessible. Single-family zoning also reduces the options available to renters, who are a quickly growing demographic across the millennial, Gen X and Gen Z generations. As Knoxville looks for ways to retain the young professionals graduating from the University of Tennessee and other local schools, maintaining access to the kinds of "middle housing" that yopros find desirable (i.e., duplexes or courtyard apartments--not the massive complexes that college students are looking for) will be key in keeping future leaders local. Renting is also a vital option for vulnerable populations such as single moms and refugees, many of whom may not meet the credit score requirements of large housing vendors, or who should have more options besides government projects.In general, it's important for the health of cities and communities to provide the zoning to support "middle housing" market demands. The 1930s zoning code supported this, which is why neighborhoods throughout North Knoxville in particular have Depression-era duplexes and small apartment buildings--all of which are nearly constantly rented, emphasizing their desirability. Doubling the lot size requirements for R-1 and R-2 zoning is acceptable, but the new R-3 and R-4 zones must be more heavily utilized to compensate.While the formatting of these messages doesn't allow me to provide in-line links to the research that supports these claims, I'm happy to provide a bibliography.
Staff Reply:

Recode Comments from Oakwood-Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association for Draft 3, Map 2
OLPNA recognizes the need for the updated zoning codes and looks forward to the benefits. We appreciate the reestablishment of the Infill Design Housing Guidelines that impact several inner city historic neighborhoods, including our own.We have concerns regarding several segments of the zoning code which include residential, commercial and industrial parcels.Thank you for your attention to these details,Deborah ThomasPresident, Oakwood-Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association
Staff Reply:

Feedback On Recode

Attached is a document with my comments regarding recode.

Staff Reply:

Comments On (mostly) The Sw Section Of Recode, Draft 4

First, thanks for addressing my last round of comments on the South Waterfront code section. Almost all of my concerns have been fixed. However, I noticed some changes in draft 4 which caused additional concern.Allowed uses in the SW2 in draft 4 do not include commercial. This is contrary to the SW code and would represent a major change. Although the narrative in the SW2 section of the SW code does suggest that acceptable uses include single-family, two-family, townhouse, and multi-family dwellings, in no place does it forbid commercial use. The intent of the Vision Plan (and later the code) was to have as much mixed use as possible. SW-1, because of the wishes of the existing neighborhoods, was the only district that was residential only.The SW parking requirements (page 11-5) are, charitably, messed up, and represent major changes from the code. The SW code was intended to discourage overbuilt parking areas and so listed parking maximums only.Draft 4 adds minimums for the SW district.It increases the maximum in SW3 and SW4 from 2/1000 sq. ft. to 3/1000 sq.ft. (Presumably, this would also include SW2 when commercial use is allowed).The minimums in some of the residential categories in draft 4 are actually HIGHER in the SW table than in the general parking standards. For example, the minimum in the SW district is 2/du for three-bedroom residential but in the general code it is 1.5/du. I prefer to see going back to the original code and eliminating parking minimums all together, but if they are going to be included, they certain should not be higher in the SW district than anywhere else.There is no separate dwelling- multi-family classification in the SW table. In the general code, the parking minimum is 0.67/bedroom for developments rented by bedroom. This is omitted from the SW requirements, which is a pretty big omission. Again, I'd be happy to see minimums go away in the SW section, but if they are to stay, this omission must be fixed.The original Hillside/Ridgetop Plan specifically excluded the SW district. I'm assuming that since we're codifying this now, the hillside/ridgetop zoning standards will also apply in the SW. If not, they should.I was under the impression that commercial areas were going to be included in the hillside/ridgetop standards but I don't see that in draft 4. I know developers are pushing back on this, but it's something that is really important and needs to be included.Finally, since I know you mostly only hear things people DON'T like, let me lend my full support for ADUs in all residential neighborhoods.Thanks again for the opportunity to comment.One additional comment. I am not comfortable with moving the streetscapes section of the SW code to an appendix, especially one I'm not yet seeing. What exactly does that mean?One more thing and I'm done: Site plan review should also be required in the SW2 district (section 15.5.C.2a in draft 4).
Staff Reply:

Infill Housing Feasibility

Good Morning,We all know the importance of quality Infill, so I wanted to share some information regarding the role ReCode will play in providing it.This is an attempt to further identify potential issues & outcomes so we can collectively work towards better solutions for Knoxville.First, you'll find illustrations showing the feasibility of different types of Infill that would be allowed in each residential zone.Followed by potential solutions suited for the existing lot sizes we have available.Thanks for your commitment & contributions to this process. Reach out with any questions or feedback.
Staff Reply:

Recode - Adu's

I am a resident of West Hills writing to address the current draft of the recode Knoxville.A. I whole heartedly support the efforts to expand mixed use development that allows residential area above ground floor commercial property. I especially appreciate the value that mixed use development can have by bringing residential development to spaces that might otherwise have rolled up and been dead after business hours. Indeed, it was mixed use development that helped to restore the downtown to the thriving area that it is now. If similar mixed use (commercial below/residential above) growth can spread from the downtown, east, west, north and south along major arteries that would, indeed, be in the best interest of all within the city.B. I have great concern regarding the Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU's.) as the code is written currently. I am not completely opposed to the ADU's, but I do feel that they must have requirements that allow protections for neighborhoods and neighbors. My concerns are outlined below.As written, Recode Section 10.3.B would allow an accessory dwelling unit to be built in every residential zone in the city. As is, a home owner could convert a two-car garage to a rental apartment; the main living space of a house into a rental unit, and add a detached ADU to the lot as a third rental. How would the potential lack of off-street parking (resident cars not fitting in the driveway) impact neighborhood traffic or neighborhood safety relating to emergency vehicles travelling through the neighborhood? How would such a change in density impact water/sewer systems? What about houses not on the city sewer system, but rather with leaching fields? Do trailers meet the designation as an ADU? What recourses would neighborhoods and property owners have if such rental situations became nuisances?C. As written the Recode Section 10.3.B provides no protections for neighborhoods with regard to the possible disruptions that might arise based upon the addition of ADU's as rentals to neighborhoods. Observations & Suggestions:1. While the provision of ADU's as proposed does not provide for owner occupancy, the current code for Air B&B's does. It makes no sense that codes for ADU's would not provide the same protections for neighborhoods and homeowners that the codes for Air B&B's do. A cities' code system is a reflection of its values and should be consistent across the policies of all city units.2. ADU's in Knoxville should be allowed only if the home is owner occupied. At the most recent West Hills neighborhood feed back session it was stated by a city recode representative that it assumed that most or all ADU's would naturally fall into this category. If that is indeed anticipated, then codify this as a requirement. An owner-occupied clause provides protections, enabling a neighbor or neighborhood to address a problem situation through the court system if needed.3. City lots with ADU's should provide adequate off-street parking for both the primary residence and ADU occupants. This should not simply be assumed, but written into the city code.4. "Supporters of owner-occupancy, which is also required in Seattle and Washington, D.C., assert that the requirement promotes community stability and property maintenance." Stanford University Study: https://law.stanford.edu/wpcontent/uploads/2018/03/infranca_25_stan._l._poly_rev_53.pdf5. The fact that many cities have placed specific guidelines on ADU's is well documented and easy to research. Examples from 11 cities are listed below. Why isn't Knoxville following their lead?For example:
  • Nashville allows ADUs only where duplexes are permitted.
  • Atlanta allows them only in duplex and multi-family zones with 750 sq. ft. max.
  • Decatur, Georgia, limits ADUs to 300 to 800 sq. ft., and to no more than two occupants.
  • Franklin, Tennessee, limits ADUs to 800 sq. ft., under the same roof as the house, and two occupants, with off-street parking; detached units only on 2+ acre lots with special use permit.
  • Memphis/Shelby County allows only 700 sq. ft. ADUs on lots from 10,000 sq. ft. to 1.5 acres; larger acreage can have bigger ADUs; must supply parking space.
  • Salt Lake City requires an affidavit that home and/or ADU is owner-occupied and prohibits them where there is an existing home occupation or business use.
  • Leadville, CO - ADU are allowed, but if they are as rentals, must rental duration must last at least 30 days.
  • Philadelphia, PA - Allows ADU's limited to 800 square feet, and requires owner occupancy.
  • Santa Cruz, CA - ADUs are allowed in designated residential zones as long as the property owner inhabits either the main house or the ADU.
  • Austin, TX - Allows ADU's. Austin requires two spaces for a detached ADU, in addition to the two spaces required for a primary dwelling.
  • Denver, CO - Allows internal or attached ADUs, as well as detached ADUs, Owner occupancy of either the ADU or the primary dwelling is required.
Staff Reply:

Recode Comments

Some random comments.Suggested editsOn the Use Table, the OS Parks and Open Space zone includes cemeteries, marinas, and golf courses and other private uses that are not necessarily recreational. Not all of these uses are captured in the description in 7-2. I suggest editing the description to include all of these various uses.Funeral Homes and Crematories are now separated on the Use Table, but still lumped together in the Definitions.Map commentsSomeone will probably catch this, but the only zone that allows airports is I-H (which seems appropriate to me), but Island Home Airport is zoned INST on the draft map.Probably a moot point since we have limited regulatory authority over them, but is INST the best zone for the National Guard facility on Sutherland? Because of the outdoor storage of equipment (and maybe indoor storage of munitions), seems to me like an industrial zone might be more appropriate.It seems inappropriate to locate C-N zones adjacent to other commercial zones. This has been cleaned up on Sutherland, but the intersection of Dutch Valley and Bruhin is a patchwork of commercial zones, including C-N. There is a large patch of C-N on Woodland next to C-G-2 and INST. I don't know if there are other places like this.Just My OpinionsMore of the districts that abut the river could allow marinas as special uses. RN-1 (maybe), I-H, AG, O, OP, C-H, and INST should be considered.The Definition of marina can be interpreted to include docks for individual houses (boat docking or storage with no size threshold). If that is the intent, they need to be allowed in RN-1 since they are already plentiful in some R-1areas. If that is not the intent, the definition needs to be tightened up a little to include a minimum size.Can we do something contextual with maximum heights, such as adjacent zone, topography, view shed, shade shed? This might help sell the idea of taller buildings to those who are dubious about the idea.It seems like you should be able to put a multi-story office building in an O zone. Even when used as a transition/buffer adjacent to a residential area, 3 or 4 stories might be appropriate depending on context. The current regs allow 45' non-residential buildings in O zones, so the new 35' requirement is going backwards.I think the 35' height limit is too restrictive in many cases.Townhouses in RN-6 and RN-7 (and maybe RN-4 and RN-5) should be allowed to go to three stories (45'?). Three-story townhouses are common in other cities and seem entirely compatible with a zone that allows 65' multi-family dwellings.Also, consider three-story dwelling-over-business in C-N, depending on context.C-G-1 and C-H-1 have 40' max height. Is that enough for 3 stories, or just enough for an assertive facade or high ceilings?
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Letter From Parkridge: Recode

Dear MPC,This letter is sent to you on behalf of the Parkridge Community Organization. Our neighborhood encompasses a large area of East Knoxville, bounded by Magnolia to the South, Hall of Fame to the West, Cherry to the East, and i-40 to the North. At this month's neighborhood meeting, neighbors discussed their concerns regarding the latest Recode draft, specifically the sections proposed as RN-4 and the proposed zoning on Magnolia of CG-2.Everyone in attendance agreed on one matter. We feel strongly that the proposed allowable building heights of 70 feet for the zoning along Magnolia Avenue and small portions of Fifth Ave. are inappropriate. Allowing buildings over the height of 40 feet will directly effect how residents along this corridor enjoy their homes and are able to continue using yard spaces for gardening, recreation, and privacy. CG-1 is a more appropriate zoning. CN appears to be the most appropriate zoning since there are residential buildings and homes along Magnolia Ave. Again, let me say everyone in attendance agreed on this matter.There are varied thoughts and opinions on the proposed zoning change to RN-4, which is in areas that are primarily single family homes with a mix of historic multifamily dwellings and converted duplexes. A few neighbors spoke in favor of the Bring Back the Orange campaign promoting more RN-4 zoning to increase density and affordable housing options. While we all agreed more affordable housing is needed, many residents are concerned that this zoning could actually make our neighborhood less affordable by encouraging real estate developers to take advantage of the neighborhood's proximity to downtown. Those who disagree with the proposal are also concerned about parking, citing the distance they currently have to park from their homes along Fifth Ave. as a problem they face now and the issues that have already arisen because of this. Many who disagree with the proposal of RN-4 stated they would have little issue if the area had a zoning design overlay to protect Knoxville's largest National Register district.Please reconsider the zoning for our neighborhood.Thank you,Lynne RandazzoPresidentParkridge Community Organization
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Recode Knoxville

Attached are the comments I (thought) were submitted to Recode Draft 1 but it scrolling through all the public comments I see it didn't take. So I thought, what the heck I'll just submit them again though some are now outdated. Consider it submitted for your reading pleasure. I'm drafting comments on application process which will be submitted by Oct 31st.
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Landscape 12.1 E

12.1 E Naturalized plants include the sub-category of invasive plants according to USDA and NRCS. We should simply require native plants, period.
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Roof Design

T 5-2 and T 6.2 (maybe other places?) Roof design in the table eliminates roof surfaces that produce glare. This is not well defined or described. For a low slope roof, we should want, encourage or even require a roofing material with a Solar Reflective Index (SRI) of at least 78 to reduce Urban Heat Gain and increase energy efficiency. To achieve this with a membrane roof, one will need to use a white or possibly tan roof. On low slope roofs we need to allow white. On steep slope roofs > 2:12 we may want to encourage a much lower SRI of at least 29. I suggest removal of the "reflective roof surfaces that produce glare are prohibited."
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T 5.1 Applied To Map

C-G-1 should be used in areas near existing residential with the height limit of 40'. We don't want new commercial to be much higher than adjacent residential so use C-G-1 as a transition between residential and C-G-2.
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Hillside Protection Overlay

Can detail be provided on how specifically slope should be calculated for the purpose of determining Hillside Protection requirements?For example, should the slope be calculated from the lowest to the highest point of the lot, regardless of location? Or from the center of the rear lot line to the center of the front lot line? How specifically will this be evaluated and enforced by the city?For reference, I am asking because I am purchasing a vacant lot that falls under the Hillside Protection Overlay, and trying to understand what due diligence needs to be done surrounding this.Thanks for any advice you can give.
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Single Family Dwelling Design Standards And Interior Landscaping Standards For Recode Knoxville

Please re-instate design standards for single family dwellings (on lots of one acre or less) that were recommended in an earlier draft of ReCode. Raising the standards would make a substantial difference in the aesthetics of new neighborhood development. Landscaping requirements for parking lots is another area of concern. It appears that some of the proposed landscaping requirements in ReCode have now been deleted. Please consider how important landscaping is to the appearance of large areas of asphalt! A good example of landscaping done well is the WestTown Mall parking area. Many years ago a local woman with vision, Maria Compere, advocated for the planting of many trees around the perimeter, in the medians, and other areas of the parking lot. Without her determination on this issue, the Mall would not have the beautiful mature trees that it now has - something which has helped to soften and beautify the hard edges of the rectangular-shaped buildings. Please consider the importance of improved landscaping requirements and consider the Landscape Bond provision which would require 2 years of proper care by the developer, once trees and other vegetation are planted. The Bond would insure that plantings would receive adequate care, so they can get established and thrive. Improved ReCode standards is Knoxville's BIG chance to improve the look of our city for a long time to come. Thank you.
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Home Occupation

Regarding Home Occupation and Quick Pick and Retail Goods Establishment:A smart attorney told me years ago that you cannot be restrictive by being permissive.The definition of Home Occupation is: "Any commercial activity carried out for economic gain by a resident, conducted as an accessory use in the resident's dwelling unit.""Retail Goods Establishment" is indeed a use listed in the Use Matrix. So too is "Personal Service Establishment" (beauty shop, tailor) and "Office." Just as, I assume, Recode contemplates "Personal Service Establishments" and "Offices" be allowed to operate as a Home Occupation, I think "Retail Good Establishments" would also be allowed to operate. However, all must operate within the standards for Home Occupation.The list of permitted and prohibited home occupations in the existing ordinance is helpful.I honestly think a quick pick would be allowed under the proposed ordinance.I'm also referencing a letter on a home business operation. Please see the paragraph at the end of page 1: "The actual business of the company---mechanical repair and services---is being done elsewhere, off site. If clients were dropping off equipment at this address, the equipment was being work on in the garage, and then being picked up by a client at the home after repair, that would classify as a business being run at this address. However that is not the case. The multiple inspections by Plans Review have confirmed this..."The last paragraph on page 3 acknowledges "occasional employees", etc.Never mind the fact that "Contractor's office..." is a permitted use in C-3.
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Rn3 And Rn4 Designations

Thank you for the very informative meeting last night (11/26), it is apparent that many hours have been spent on this project. I am the VP of Edgewood Park Neighborhood Association (EPNA), and we currently have 7 apartment complexes and 1 condominium complex within our boundaries. In addition to these, there are several duplexes and quads interspersed. My opinion is that EPNA is currently maintaining a neighborhood with a plentiful supply of multi-family homes and I ask that we don't add any more.However, as an Atlanta transplant, I see the value of mixed-use projects along our corridors and I endorse them with your wise oversight. Same goes for the many industrial spaces that are vacant.Thanks for your efforts, I personally understand your struggles.
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Landscaping Standards

Graduated interior landscaping for parking lots between 5,000 & 20,000 sfLandscaped break every 10 spaces (vs 15) for lots greater than 20,000 sfTwo-tier bond process to ensure landscaping survives6-mo. Planting bond2-yr maintenance bond
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Residential Design Standards – Single Family

Restore design-standards for single family residential.  These are not overly onerous to comply with or to enforceMany communities require these and more
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Adus

Require dedicated parkingMore stringent standards for detached vs. attached ADU’sRestore minimum lot size to 7500 sf for detached ADU’sMaximum number of bedrooms for detached should be 2 bedroomsOwner occupancy of primary dwelling
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South Waterfront Districts

SW-1 should still be listed in residential district ??? tableSouth Waterfront districtsPg. 7-37.5SW District std.A.  Subdistricts established1.  SW-1 subdistrict (residential only) please add insert2.  SW-2 subdistrict add (residential only)Pg. 7-5B.  UsesOn 1. C.  the subdistrict SW-1 should not be allowed in SW-1 as educational facilities, preschool/kindergarten is traffic & more cars than allowed as an example for an office during the meeting.Only signage allowed in SW-1 is house address & also in SW-2 no electronic signs are allowed stationary or on vehicles!
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Recode Knoxville

If the zoning changes to allow extra residencies in an existing residence, will there be any oversight on how the rental properties are run?   Ex. If you have Section 8 housing voucher, your proposed space is inspected before signing the lease and biannually after that.  If I am not using a voucher, how will I not be taken advantage of by a terrible landlord who keeps a house in terrible condition, but I can’t afford anything else?
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-Areas to be developed or redeveloped as commercial zoning – should be required to develop parking, lighting, landscaping & sidewalks.- With respect to allowing an area to be developed outside it’s current zoning classification – I prefer to allow up zoning – don’t allow down zoning.-Areas to be developed or redeveloped as commercial zoning should have requirements as far as parking, landscaping, sidewalks & lighting.-Why do you need to know our ethnicity?-I would prefer the ability to upzone in densely commercial areas (such as Chapman Hwy) but not down zone (such as from commercial to industrial).
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I really appreciate the change being proposed for my home/lot section of the neighborhood.  It is, in effect, a ‘down-zoning’ from R-2 to RN-2.  My neighborhood, South Haven, has a lot of variety in housing choices – multi-family to single family which I appreciate.  However, I don’t want all small, relatively affordable, single family houses to disappear, just because the lots are less expensive & may be easier to develop large, multi-family housing on.  Thank you!
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Waterfront code SW2 isn’t supposed to be only residential. Please review SW vision document & drafts language for consistency.
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Rn-2

R-2 “right” should be retained in older, poorer neighborhoods like Vestal, rather than go to RN-2 “special use” by permit, which could require impractical design criteria.
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