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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Recode Timing Is Way To Fast

Why is the comment period so short and over the Holidays? Is Donald Trump now our Mayor and we'll just push this through lickety-split while no one is watching? I've read a few comments on draft #4 with its over 700 changes and one theme appears over and over and over again: there hasn't been enough time to read it! This isn't Congress, this isn't the Trump Administration--this is LOCAL. We need more time to discuss such huge changes. An H1 effort in Parkridge spanned FIVE YEARS of continual meetings, planning, debates, door-to-door knocking, mailers, flyers, everything short of writing it in the sky with an airplane (which Councilman Brown insisted would still result in someone saying they never heard about it) and yet it was smacked down by Mayor Rogero for needing "more discussion time". If FIVE YEARS isn't long enough for a neighborhood of a few hundred acres, how is the measly 7 months this has been public (since the June 2018 release of the maps--everything before that wasn't very useful for the public) long enough for a city encompassing 104.2 square miles? The obvious answer is that either the public doesn't know what it wants and the City needs to tell us what we want or the public wants something contrary to what the Mayor, Mr. Lyons, and the political/developer machine want.What's the rush? Parkridge was told that we have plenty of time to go block-by-block over many years to protect affordable housing; Knoxville already has a zoning code that's worked well enough for 50 years so there's no desperate need to install a zoning code. City Council didn't have a problem pushing the Parkridge H1 off onto a new Council but now the excuse for the rush is so that the next council won't have to deal with it. A project this monumental should take place over several sitting City Councils. I am saddened that is has become just a political plum for an outgoing administration.
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:

Rn-2 Density

Though patches of RN-3 and RN-4 now occur on the map in the outer rings of downtown, most existing neighborhoods remain RN-2. I feel these neighborhoods should be zoned a higher density, like RN-3. However, if they are to remain RN-2, I believe they should permit duplex development by right. I suggest RN-2 AND RN-1 be modified to permit duplex development because they would allow increased (from that currently proposed) housing opportunities. The ReCode team has consistently proposed lower density in these neighborhoods than is currently permitted, which counter-acts many well-researched studies demonstrating that the "missing middle" housing is at the core of our nation's housing crisis. If this code is to be sustainably productive, it should permit some "missing middle" opportunity in these neighborhoods (Mechanicsville, Oakwood/Lincoln Park, etc).
Staff Reply:

Landscaping Code

This may be unrealistic, but I would like to see solar cells erected over parking lots before anyone goes out and covers potential productive farmland with them. I envision a grid of 16 - 20 ft tall poles, the whole thing stabilized with guy wires anchored around the perimeter, supporting solar cells to provide shade in the summer, and power without the need for additional distribution infrastructure. A solar farm elsewhere requires maintenance to keep down and kill vegetation that otherwise would take over (or else you have to pave the thing), and lines and right-of-way to bring the power into the city.
Staff Reply:

Min Lot Width Prevents New Housing In Rn-4

There is an issue with minimum lot sizes not matching existing lot sizes in the city. RN-3 and RN-4 are the densest residential zones near the corridors, and they are less dense than the historic city grid. There has been much talk about zoning by current use so that these houses will be conforming to the new code, but if you look at the only swathes of RN-3 and RN-4 just north of downtown and well within walking distance (surrounding Baxter @ Central and West end of Gill), the lot widths are 40', 42', 37', 30', (even 22'!) etc. Even in Fourth and Gill there are many lots less than 50' and are thus nonconforming. RN-3 and RN-4 both require 50' minimum for a single family. So as it exists, what appears to be the densest housing areas near downtown and within walking distance to jobs do not permit even single family development. I own a lot on Hinton Ave, on which I currently plan to build a duplex. With the current proposal, I could build no housing at all. I know of another planned development in this area, a quad-plex, which is currently permitted but would not be under the proposed ReCode. Even on this property, a block in from Central and over 60' wide, a maximum of only three units can be built. This result seems both counterproductive and contrary to the goals of your research. I have not reviewed this condition in other areas of the city, so please look closer at this issue elsewhere. It is difficult enough to find one lot for purchase in the area, so anticipating the combination of lots for greater opportunity is not viable. One solution may be to match the required minimum lot width with the existing grid in city neighborhoods, or allowing for an exception for historic widths. Another thought is that these areas near the intersection of Broadway and Central could become a commercial or I-MU district, which has no minimum width and now permits single-family, and matches the historic use of this area. Also, while checking the I-MU district for applicability in these areas, I noticed that single family and multi-family are permitted, but townhouses and duplexes are not. Is there a reason to dis-incentive the middle-density options?
Staff Reply:

Os-1 Status In Recode

The language supporting OS-1 (Open Space Preservation District) is still being dropped from the current ReCode draft 4 ordinance. This is a mistake. Attached are detailed comments on this issue. 
Staff Reply:

Agenda Item 5, 11-a-8-oa

The board of Ftn. City Town Hall, Inc. agrees with and supports the request of Community Forum regarding Agenda Item 5, 11-A-18-OA- Consideration of the Comprehensive Update of the City of Knoxville Zoning Ordinance. We are asking for a postponement from the January 10, 2019, meeting of the Planning Commission to the February 14, 2019, meeting.The last draft was only available online December 17, 2018, with hard copies available December 27, 2018. During this busy season of the year, it is not practical for neighborhood groups to be able to meet for extensive periods of time to discuss this important document that affects every parcel of property within the city limits. We could not possibly have written comments within the time period allotted, which was January 4, 2019.We certainly intend to offer comments as soon as possible.There are many substantive changes from Draft 3 to Draft 4. The time that Commissioners, the Stakeholder Committee, and the public has had for review has not been long enough for a thorough review.Please don’t vote to accept this document in its present form. We must get this right. Our neighborhoods are in great part what makes Knoxville so special. It is too far-reaching and too important to adopt and then “hope” we can amend the document in problematic areas to prevent damaging impacts to our neighborhoods and even commercial areas.Again, we are asking for Agenda item 5 to be postponed until the February 14, 2019 Planning Commission meeting.Sincerely,Board, Ftn. City Town Hall, Inc.
Staff Reply:

Thank You From Claiborne Pl

Thank you for changing our street to RN-2 in draft 3 of the map. I can breathe a sigh of relief for my little house.
Staff Reply:

I-mu Should Not Be For Old Buildings Only

Section 6.1 of Draft 4 says that the I-MU zoning district is intended to allow a mix of light industrial uses and a variety of compatible commercial as well as residential uses. Great! But the draft also says that "this mix is intended to promote the reuse of older, character-giving structures that may no longer be suitable for their original industrial purposes " I hope that I-MU can be used for other settings as well.. A mix of craft industrial with commercial and residential may be desirable outside of downtown Knoxville in buildings intentionally designed for this purpose,
Staff Reply:

Czimmerman@advantagetn.com

Please halt any zoning change to allow multi level structures in residential areas, like Clairborne st in Edgewood park neighborhood. The only way these structures can be built is to tear down some beautiful vintage houses along Claiborne tp make room for these structures and parking lots. This is a horrible idea to change the code to allow this. This code is very unfriendly to areas that are not designated historic zones. Those areas are protected from tiny lots & tiny buildings too. Isn't this discrimination to allow code changes like this in non historic zones? This density model needs to stay downtown where those who want density can live. Others like me prefer to have more green space from my neighbor.
Staff Reply:
Thanks for your interest in Recode. In response to your comment:Please halt any zoning change to allow multi level structures in residential areas, like Clairborne st in Edgewood park neighborhood. The only way these structures can be built is to tear down some beautiful vintage houses along Claiborne tp make room for these structures and parking lots. This is a horrible idea to change the code to allow this. This code is very unfriendly to areas that are not designated historic zones. Those areas are protected from tiny lots & tiny buildings too. Isn't this discrimination to allow code changes like this in non historic zones? This density model needs to stay downtown where those who want density can live. Others like me prefer to have more green space from my neighbor. The Claiborne Place neighborhood and most of the Edgewood Park neighborhood, with the exception of existing multi-family developments, are designated RN-2 (single family residential zone) on the 3rd draft of the proposed zoning map. One of your neighbors (sorry I cannot remember her name) attended some meetings and also emailed to make us aware of the desire for single-family designation for the neighborhood. Thanks for your concern for your neighborhood.

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