Finding a Council Member for District One and Moving Forward Together

Your Knoxville City Council was given a difficult task last week. Following Stephanie Welch’s resignation to serve Mayor Kincannon’s administration, council was tasked with selecting her replacement to serve out the remainder of her term, which runs through 2021.

I must take a moment and share how much I will miss Stephanie. She was accessible to her constituents, worked hard for her district and was always a deliberate and thoughtful member of council. One of the best parts of serving on council is meeting and connecting with great people like Stephanie. I am not sure if our paths would have crossed otherwise, but I am glad we had the opportunity to serve together.

Those who step up to serve on council acknowledge that there will be tough calls at nearly every meeting and last Thursday was no exception. Given the weight of the responsibility of selecting a new District 1 council member, I wanted to share my decision-making process.

First, I’d like to mention: As a former Knox County Election Commissioner, I would have preferred to let the people of District 1 select their representative through a traditional election, rather than a council appointment. I believe in our democratic process and continue to encourage community-wide participation in our elections. That being said, let’s clarify the process council had to work with.

The Process:
The Charter sets forth the rules required for replacing a member of council in Chapter 7.5, Article 2, Section 7.5-87(e), Rule 26: Filling Vacancies. Let’s explore the language: “in the first round of voting, applicants not receiving at least one (1) vote shall be eliminated.” The rule goes on to clarify, “in the second and subsequent rounds of voting, the applicant receiving the fewest number of votes shall be eliminated.” In my opinion, this is relatively straight forward and keep in mind council is required to fill a vacant office within thirty days according to Charter Part I, Article 7, Section 705: Vacancies.

Council attorney Rob Frost, who had reviewed the video of the same process in action nine years ago, was concerned about a scenario where more than one candidate would tie with the fewest number of votes. After a good debate, including council members Parker, Fugate, Singh, Rider, and Testerman, a suggestion was made that, in the unlikely event of a tie with the fewest number of votes, a tie would stand and wouldn’t be broken until after five rounds of the same parties being locked in that same tie. This scenario did not occur so only the plain language as directed by the Charter was required during our vote.

How I Reached My Decision:
For reference, I am only detailing my process, no one else’s. Following Stephanie’s announcement, I thought about the unique position a district representative has on Council and how best to identify the right qualities in a candidate. Early on, I felt the best way to identify and evaluate these qualities was to attend as many South Knoxville neighborhood meetings as I could. Of the fourteen neighborhoods listed in the First District with the Office of Neighborhoods, I attended seven meetings leading up to our February 20th meeting. These meetings included: Colonial Village, Island Home, Old Sevier Community, South Haven, South Woodlawn, Southside Waterfront, and the Vestal Community. I learned a lot from those meetings regarding the unique challenges and opportunities in the First District, making a point to stick around after the meeting concluded to allow neighbors to share their thoughts. In the neighborhoods I visited, only Tommy Smith and Janice Tocher attended as well. I can’t tell you who did or did not attend any other meetings where I wasn’t present.

After visiting with those neighborhoods, one thing became very clear: People want an accessible neighborhood advocate to represent them.

Repeatedly, I heard neighbors echoing this same sentiment. You must be accessible and to do that, you have to show-up at community events and engage with those who you wish to serve. One gentleman I sat next to at the Old Sevier Community Group leaned over to me and said, “I like the way you stand up for your neighborhoods.” Balancing the needs of neighborhoods and the city as a whole is our job as council members.

Most of the citizens I spoke to in South Knoxville expressed support for Tommy Smith. I also received numerous emails and letters expressing support for a candidate, but I received the most messages on behalf of Janice Tocher and Tommy Smith. I met with each candidate that asked for a meeting and had great visits with Anne Wallace, Janice Tocher, Rebecca Parr, David Hayes, Ben Ream, and Tommy Smith. I appreciate the opportunity to meet each candidate and get to know them better. Next, I carefully reviewed their applications and entered the special called meeting with an open mind, needing to hear from each candidate in order to make my decision.

Ultimately, I chose Tommy Smith for the reasons I detailed above and because I felt like he demonstrated before and during the special called meeting that he will be an accessible neighborhood advocate for the First District. I also really enjoyed hearing from all the candidates and several times thought how wonderful it is that the First District provided so many good candidates to choose from.

Moving Forward Together:
It’s not often that council is called on to replace one of its own, but I am proud of all our members for their hard work and diligence during this process. It is my absolute privilege to serve on the most diverse council ever, comprised of two thirds female members and one third people of color. What a wonderful moment for our city! Now that we are back to nine members of council, I look forward to getting back to work with this exceptional group of community leaders.

Beer Board Reviews Policy, Considers 2020 Goals to Curb Underage Service

Earlier this week, your Knoxville Beer Board met for the first time in 2020. This was also the first time that I served as chair. I truly appreciate Vice Mayor McKenzie nominating me for this position and for the approval of my colleagues on City Council to take up this role.

Mark Byrd
Mark Byrd, revenue technician with the business and tax division, is ready to assist those seeking a beer permit.

The responsibility of our Beer Board can be generally divided into two areas: customer service and enforcement. In the first area of focus, customer service, Beer Board and the staff in the business tax office assist the public with the application process and familiarize applicants with expectations associated with issuing permits. Last week, I conducted a walkthrough and mock application, as if I were seeking a beer permit. Mark Byrd of the Business Tax Division is on the customer service front lines and skillfully guided me through the process. Mark and Revenue Administrator, Donna Dyer, are committed to assisting applicants throughout the permit process.

The second area of focus is enforcement. The Beer Board works with KPD to reduce the number of establishments serving underage customers. I spoke with Karen Pershing, Executive Director of the Metro Drug Coalition, who showed me a 2018 Knox County Middle School Survey revealing that approximately one in five middle school students in our community have tried alcohol more than a few sips (see: 2018 Knox County Middle School Youth Behavior Study.) It has been and will remain a top priority of the Beer Board to reduce the number of establishments that serve underage customers by ensuring that permit holders have plans in place to prevent these sales in the first place.

“We all play a role in preventing underage drinking, whether we are parents, educators, neighbors, policy makers or business owners. By sharing a consistent message and doing our part to reduce access to alcohol, we can drive down rates of alcohol use by our youth and make our community healthier and safer for all of us,” – Karen Pershing, Executive Director, Metro Drug Coalition

When starting a new role, I believe in taking an inventory of where you are and then determine where you want to go. Prior to our meeting, there were 794 active beer permits in Knoxville. From the beginning of 2018 through the end of 2019, there were 194 approved applications. The number of applicants appearing before the Beer Board increased by almost 16% from 114 in 2018 to 135 in 2019. In the past two years KPD conducted 9 compliance checks visiting 185 establishments of which 34 sold to underage customers in 2018 and 26 in 2019. That’s a failure rate of 18% in 2018, which decreased to 14% in 2019.

Permit holders who fail their compliance check, have no fine for a first offense if they submit a remedial plan detailing how they will prevent underage service in the future. If they fail to submit a plan, the offender will go to a hearing and receive a $250 fine. A second offense will result in a hearing where suspension or revocation can occur as well as a $500 fine (see here for link to current penalties). In our discussion, Beer Board members expressed interest in learning the consequences for failing a compliance check in other local jurisdictions. My preliminary research into this found that in Knox County, failure of a compliance check yields $1,000 in a first offense.

To help stop underage service, both preceding Beer Boards had a focus on server compliance plans. This is a plan that lays out how a business will prevent underage beer sales as well as overserving customers. The requirement was added to beer permit applications in 2017. Then in 2018, the Beer Board passed guidelines I authored for server compliance plans to be added to the beer permit application (see guidelines). In 2018 only 5.2% of those applicants appearing before Beer Board didn’t have a server compliance plan in their application at the time they appeared at Beer Board. That number dropped to 4.4% in 2019. We are making progress as evidenced by the increase in plans being submitted as well as the 4% drop in establishments that sold to an underage informant in 2019 versus 2018. Preventing underage sales is certainly not a new goal. However, we as public servants should constantly seek to improve and work to address challenges.

Beer Board had a thoughtful discussion at the end of our meeting reviewing these statistics as well as our present procedure. From that discussion it is clear that the members would like to consider the following goals for 2020.

  • Ensuring that 100% of applicants produce a server compliance plan before their Beer Board appearance.
  • Ensuring that penalties are appropriate to facilitate further reductions in underage sales.
  • Reviewing the number of compliance checks to see if recommending an increase to KPD would be helpful to ensure better performance in compliance checks.

We want to be data driven and proactive as a Board, so I look forward to upcoming reports allowing future actions to consider as well as hearing further from my colleagues on these important issues.

Support for Sutherland Avenue

Did you know? November 30th is Small Business Saturday! It’s the perfect opportunity to show support for small businesses in our community — businesses that play a critical role in bolstering Knoxville’s economy. Why is our support so critical? 67 cents of every dollar spent at a local business stays in our local community.

Doing our small part, fellow Council-member Gwen McKenzie and I have partnered on a series of lunch mobs to help local businesses along Sutherland Avenue during the closure of Hollywood Road. The closure will last for several months as improvements to Hollywood Road get underway and as the Flats at Pond Gap, an affordable workforce housing development, is built. During the consideration of this project by City Council, the neighborhood expressed legitimate concerns about traffic safety and potential flooding. In order to address those concerns, Hollywood Road will be raised to improve line of sight for drivers, 1,000 feet of new or replacement sidewalks will be installed, a crosswalk will be installed to improve walkability, and critical steps will be taken to address localized flooding in the area. The road improvements and addition of 102 units of affordable workforce housing will be beneficial in the long term, but we are working to minimize any potential impact on local businesses along Sutherland during construction.

Lunch Mob Pic
Former Mayors Victor Ashe and Dan Brown as well as Mayor Rogero and Mayor-elect Kincannon joined Council-member Gwen McKenzie and I for our first Sutherland Ave. lunch mob.

Gwen and I were pleased to host our first lunch mob last Thursday, November 21 at El Charro. The event was well attended and we appreciate the support of neighbors from Sutherland Heights, Westwood, Pond Gap, Forest Heights, and Sequoyah Hills who joined us. The entire community is invited to our next lunch mob on Monday, December 16th from Noon-1pm at Dead End BBQ located at 3621 Sutherland Ave.

Please join us in supporting our local small businesses and merchants along the Sutherland Avenue corridor.

Back To School

On September 8, 2019, I gave the keynote address to a group of University of Tennessee Knoxville students for their fall officer training. Jasmine Wilcox, the president of the United Residence Halls Association (URHC) invited me as I had served as president of the student organization in 1997/98. URHC is a student organization representing all those who live in residence halls at UTK and whose purpose is to “unite the students living in residence halls through leadership, programming, service, and education.”

2019 URHC Executive Board

In my remarks, I shared some stories about my race back in 1997 and some of our accomplishments including VolFest, a beginning of the year event designed to show students and residents what their residence halls can do for them and to encourage year-round participation. I believe VolFest continued on for at least another 14 years. We also added a public forum to our agenda and held a Hall Olympics, where each Hall competed in various sporting like events.

It’s been 22 years since my time with URHC which had a significant impact me. I explained to the students that many of the skills they are learning in URHC today are the same as those we need on City Council. In both roles you need to set a budget, outline your priorities, respond to your constituents, be comfortable in public speaking, find ways to work together, and learn Robert’s Rules of Order so you can run a meeting. I told the students that all these skills I started to learn during my time with URHC have served me well after graduation and Law School at UT.

I reminded the students that we will always face challenges in anything worth our effort, but often our greatest challenge is that we underestimate ourselves and what we can accomplish together. At the beginning of 1997, would any of the students in URHC have predicted our success in accomplishing all we did…not likely. But, through the effort of so many students we did. I encouraged the students to be ambitious with their goals while in college and in the next phase of their lives.

I truly appreciate the opportunities serving in URHC gave me and for the chance to visit with these amazing young leaders.

Slashing CO2 Emissions In Half By 2030

Earth from Voyager 1
Earth from 3.7 billion miles away taken by Voyager 1.

There is one bright pixel in this image…can you see it? This is a picture of the Earth suspended in a sunbeam against the emptiness of space. It was taken 3.7 billion miles away by Voyager 1 in 1990. The iconic image was captured as the NASA probe continued its journey, ultimately leaving our solar system in August 2012. Of this image, the late Carl Sagan said: “We succeeded in taking that picture, and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives.”


There isn’t another place like earth anywhere nearby, and therefore, we are responsible for taking care of it. In recent decades, our nation has met environmental challenges by focusing on the ozone layer, removing lead from gasoline, and taking steps to protect our air and water supply. But today’s challenge is climate change and the buildup of greenhouse gases, which trap heat in our atmosphere increasing our global temperatures. In order to be good stewards of our planet, we must think globally and act locally.

In 2008, Knoxville set a goal to reduce municipal carbon dioxide emissions by 20% relative to emission data from the 2005 baseline. Since setting that goal, investments in energy efficiency in city buildings improved efficiency by 14% in 2018 as compared to energy use in 2010. Further, improvements in the city’s fleet and KAT vehicles have combined to lower emissions by 11% since 2005.

In 2018, after City Council’s approval, Knoxville began replacing high pressure sodium streetlights with energy-efficient LED lights. The installation of LED streetlights resulted in a 60% reduction in streetlight electrical use, the savings from which pays for itself in 8 years and saves taxpayers $2 million each year thereafter. The city of Knoxville exceeded our municipal reduction goal of 20% set in 2008 by implementing this change.

I believe one of our greatest community challenges is our propensity to underestimate what we are capable of accomplishing. In 2008, a 20% reduction in C02 emissions may have seemed ambitious, but with this accomplishment it is time to set a new goal and do more to protect this community we call home.

On Tuesday, August 13, City Council will take up a resolution to set a new goal to reduce municipal greenhouse gas emissions by 50% of 2005 baseline by 2030, and an 80% reduction in our community emissions by 2050. I am very pleased to sponsor this resolution which builds on our city’s progress of proactively addressing climate change. In achieving our previous reduction goal and setting new ambitious objectives, we will be positively impacting our environment while producing overall savings for our taxpayers.

Exploring West Hills and the Established Neighborhood Amendment

One of the Recode amendments I proposed at the last Council meeting has drawn some interest and likewise some misunderstanding. Therefore, I’d like to breakdown some of the key points of the Established Neighborhood Amendment and clarify some misunderstandings about West Hills.

The West Hills Neighborhood
West Hills Community Association president Donnie Ernst recently said, “We are a working-class neighborhood and love our neighborhood as is.”

West Hills has a very active neighborhood association, both in terms of community gatherings and a shared commitment to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In fact, the neighborhood recently received statewide “healthy neighborhood” recognition by Governor’s Health and Wellness Foundation. West Hills Elementary School is located in the heart of the neighborhood, where 52% of students receive free or reduced lunch and approximately 100 of the 750 students speak English as a second language. The assertion that this neighborhood is solely comprised of a certain type of resident is simply not accurate. West Hills is a welcoming, engaged, hard-working and diverse community — one that I’m proud to represent.

The EN Amendment
To clarify, the EN amendment did not specifically single-out or exclude West Hills, or any other neighborhood, from having Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). Rather, the amendment made a change to a zone under Recode called EN or the Established Neighborhood zone. Our city’s current zoning ordinance has examples of EN zoning in Holston Hills and Old Westmoreland. This zone is a neighborhood led process, meaning that neighborhoods must apply for this type of zoning.

The EN zone treats duplexes differently than in other residential zones as duplexes are not allowed in EN under Recode. My amendment added an option for the neighborhood to select whether or not to allow ADUs as well. It is important to note that neighborhoods have the option to limit ADUs only when they apply for and receive EN zone status.

Background: West Hills Zoning
Why do some neighborhoods, like West Hills, want to have an option to decide if ADUs and Duplexes are a good fit for them? The answer is infrastructure.

Like many neighborhoods, West Hills has been dealing with narrow winding roads and lack of sidewaimg_0470lks for a very long time. In fact, in September 1973, The West Hills Community Association published a study of land use in the neighborhood, following a directive from Knoxville City Council. The purpose of the document states: “westerly growth of the city in recent years has created conditions alarming in scope, with no apparent policy by MPC and City Council to provide permanent solutions, and yet those responsible have continued to encourage and approve intensive development in this same section of the city.” According to the study’s introduction, the document was created when a new multi-family development prompted community concern over traffic, street infrastructure, school conditions, flood control, and proper zoning policies

Eight years later, with the passage of O-254-81, a new single-family residential zone was created in the city of Knoxville with the advent of the R1-E zone on October 27, 1981. The R1-E zone is actually mentioned in the 1973 study referenced above, but doesn’t appear to have been codified until 1981. As described in the ordinance, the R1-E zone: “… is a restrictive residential district intended to be used for established single-family residential subdivisions and areas immediately adjacent to such development intended for low population densities. These areas are intended to be denied and protected from encroachment of uses not performing a function necessary to the single-family residential environment.”

West Hills sought and obtained R1-E zoning in 1985 with the passage of 8-H-85-RZ. One could argue that almost 40 years ago, life was different and our perspective on zoning wasn’t the same as it is today. However, only six years ago, another second district neighborhood asked for R1-E status which indicates that the zone is neither obsolete nor outdated. On March 5, 2013, Forest Heights, was granted R1-E zoning in R-77-2013. Consider this quote in the 1973 West Hills study regarding the infrastructure in the neighborhood, “The West Hills subdivision was originally a quiet, peaceful area. The streets were laid out over and around hills in a curving and random fashion without regard to carrying voluminous traffic or high-speed vehicles.”

This is why the West Hills neighborhood and other neighborhoods have been vocal about zoning changes, they simply want a zoning structure that their neighborhood’s infrastructure can support.

What We Learned at the Second District-wide Neighborhood Discussion

More than 60 of our neighbors from Westwood, Forest Heights, Deane Hill, Kingston Pike Sequoyah Hills, West Hills, and Lyons View Community Club attended the May 9th Second District-wide Neighborhood Discussion on Recode. I want to thank Bearden Village Council for co-hosting this event and the League of Women Voters for supplying the PA equipment. We had a very informative discussion and I truly appreciate that so many of our neighbors took part in the dialogue.

The takeaway: Virtually everyone in attendance from neighborhoods, large and small, wanted to keep their current zoning or its equivalency under Recode. Those present from West Hills overwhelmingly wanted to preserve the prohibition on duplexes and ADUs they currently have, those from Forest Heights were less concerned about ADUs but were concerned about duplexes, and those from Kingston Pike Sequoyah Hills expressed continued concern about ADUs. All of those present wanted to restore our current zoning ordinance’s prohibition on temporary outdoor sales and temporary outdoor entertainment in residential zones. The majority also wanted the Hillside and Ridgetop Protection Plan to apply to all property, not just residential as is in the 5th Recode draft.

After reviewing a list of changes that I have been advocating for, we discussed the audience’s remaining concerns. Following this discussion, I have drafted the following potential amendments that our neighborhoods can begin discussing as a vote on Recode approaches:

1. Page 10-4: Accessory Structures
Issue: The removal of #7 creates an ADU without following the section and standards of an ADU.
Amendment Purpose: Restore the language in #7 making sure that the ADU section and standards cannot be bypassed. See:
Amendment Text: Page 10-4, section A, subsection 7: “No accessory structure may contain both a permanent cooking facility and plumbing unless the structure also complies with section 10.3 B.”

Issue: The chart in #6 needs to make it clear that the primary dwelling in a residential zone is dominate to the accessory structures.
Amendment Purpose via Example: On a 10,000 square foot lot. If we apply Recode’s 30% maximum building coverage on page 4-3, you could have a 1,200 square foot house footprint as well as two 750 square foot accessory buildings and one 300 square foot accessory building. Under the current Recode draft, so long as the footprint of dwelling and all the accessory buildings occupies less than 3,000 square feet, and no single accessory building is larger than the primary dwelling structure, you can exceed what is presently allowed under our current zoning ordinance.
• For current ordinance’s “Maximum Size of Accessory Buildings and Structures” chart, see:
• For Recode’s proposed “Maximum Building Coverage For A Single Accessory Structure” chart, see:
Amendment Text: Page 10-4, section A, subsection 6 chart: restore current zoning ordinance’s chart in #6 found at Article 5, Section 4 C of current zoning ordinance. The current zoning ordinance provides more flexibility as well as control given the second and third columns in the chart and the provisions in section D.

2. Page 10-4: Accessory Dwelling Units
Issue: Given that we are combining the current R1, R1a, and R1e zones into Recode’s RN1, we need to consider that each of these zones has different infrastructure and will have differing ability to handle ADUs.
Amendment Purpose: Make ADUs a special use in RN1 and RN2 residential districts so that differing infrastructure in different neighborhoods can be considered by staff while making sure that all standards have been upheld. It is important to note that in Recode a Duplex needs special use approval in RN1 and RN2 in the chart on page 9-3 under Dwelling- Two Family. This amendment would give an ADU the same treatment as a duplex. See:
Amendment Text: Page 10-4, section B, subsection 2: “An ADU may be located only on a lot with one single-family dwelling in EN, RN1, and RN2 with special use approval. One of the dwelling units must be occupied by the owner of the property.”

3. In Article 4: Make ADUs optional in Established Neighborhoods (EN)
Issue: Since some, but not all, of the neighborhoods present are concerned about ADUs, a potential amendment in the EN zone could provide the neighborhood choice over these accessory structures. The existing Established Neighborhood zone under the current code in EN1 and EN2 in Article 4 section 2.1.4., the neighborhood can make decisions regarding design guidelines, etc. during the application process. Established neighborhoods have larger lot sizes around a half acre, have design guidelines, and Recode does not permit duplexes in EN.
Amendment Purpose: EN is a neighborhood led designation, so giving neighborhoods the ability to make choices regarding ADU’s is consistent with this process. See:
Amendment Text: Page 10-4, section B, subsection 2: “An ADU may be located only on a lot with one single-family dwelling in RN1 and RN2 with special use approval and shall be permitted in EN only if the neighborhood so designates in a new EN application. One of the dwelling units must be occupied by the owner of the property.”

4. Page 2-24: Temporary Outdoor Sales
Issue: Temporary Outdoor Sales according to the matrix on page 9-6 is a temporary use in all residential zones in Recode.
• This does not refer to garage sales, rather, the definition on page 2-24 refers to “temporary structures, where goods are sold, such as consignment auctions, arts and crafts fairs, flea markets, rummage sales, temporary vehicle sales, and holiday sales.”
• The changes in draft 5, added in time limits but our current zoning ordinance, specifically references residential areas and states, “the provisions of this article do not seek to control sales by individual selling a few of their household or personal items.” So, the prohibition in our current zoning ordinance is on a flea market like environment existing in the house next door, while being permissive of a garage sale. See Article 8, section 16 of our current zoning ordinance. See:
• The Temporary Outdoor Sales provision in Recode on page 9-31, is intended to allow sales in a residential district in events associated with and conducted by a “place of worship, educational facility, or registered neighborhood association.”
• The change in Recode over our existing zoning ordinance would allow your neighbor to operate a flea market or vehicle sales where items are acquired for the purpose of resale, so long as it is conducted by one of these entities.
Amendment Purpose: Make Temporary Outdoor Sales allowable only on the site of place of worship or educational facility and not the house next door. See:
Amendment Text: Page 9-31 subsection H, number 1: “Temporary outdoor sales in the residential districts is restricted to those events associated with, conducted by, and located on the site of a place of worship or educational facility.”

5. Page 9-30: Temporary Outdoor Entertainment
• Issue: The current zoning ordinance makes it clear that carnival and circus is not allowed in residential zones as a temporary use, see Article 5, section 13. See:
Amendment Purpose: The changes in draft 5 added time limits and removed circus, carnival, firework show, horseshow from the definition, but we need to restore that these are not permitted in residential zones where the principal use is residential dwelling. See:
Amendment Text: Page 9-30, section G, subsection 1: “Temporary outdoor entertainment in residential districts is restricted to those events associated with, conducted by, and located on the site of a place of worship or educational facility.”

My Initial Review of Recode Draft 5

The 5th draft of Recode was published on May 1st and since receiving my copy I have been reviewing it in preparation of its consideration by City Council. In an effort to assist the public in their review of this document, I have provided the results of my initial review of the 5th draft below. The focus here is on areas where I have advocated for change from the last draft and many of those changes have been made. We will look at some possible amendments in a future post. In each instance, I will try to comment on changes from the last Recode draft or how the 5th draft language differs from the current zoning ordinance. For your convenience, I have arranged the items below in the order they appear in draft 5.

The purpose in section 1.2 has removed a section which included vague language referencing “related documents” and “its component parts.”

Section 1.3 makes it clear that privately owned properties leased by the County, State, or Federal government are subject to this code.

In definitions under section 2.3 the present code’s definitions for “accessory structure,” “accessory use,” and “base zone” are restored.
• The definition for “adjacent” has been added for further clarification in the zoning ordinance.
• Under “temporary outdoor entertainment,” fireworks shows, horse shows,       carnivals/circuses have been removed from the definition.
• The term “frontage” is restored with an updated definition that functions with Recode’s required build to line (RBL).

Article 4 which covers residential neighborhood districts now includes references to low, medium, and high density. The One Year Plan defines low density as a residential development at densities less than 6 dwelling units per acre, medium density as between 6 and 24 dwelling units per acre, and high density as more than 24 dwelling units per acre. The most predominate residential zone under Recode in the 2nd District is RN1 which the change in Draft 5 indicates is low density. However, the dimensional standards in RN2 provide for more than 6 dwellings per acre, despite being labeled as low density.

Neighborhood Nonresidential Reuse on page 9-16, has been amended to require that any change of an approved use must first receive a new special use approval. This means that if you have a nonresidential use inside a residential area like an art gallery, that you’d have to get special use approval before changing that use to an eating and drinking or live entertainment establishment.

On page 9-19, under vehicle repair/service, it has been made clear that a vehicle repair/service establishment can store a vehicle under repair or repaired outside for a total of 30 days.

Temporary outdoor entertainment on page 9-30, has been amended in residential districts to be limited to 4 events per calendar year with a maximum duration of 5 days per event with a minimum of 30 days between events. Under the current zoning ordinance in residential districts temporary outdoor entertainment is not provided for. If a request was made to the zoning administrator, he or she would have to decide whether or not to issue such a permit and establish the parameters of the events duration. Carnivals and circuses are allowed in the current zoning ordinance in nonresidential zones under Article 5 section 13.

Temporary outdoor sales in residential districts has been amended to three events per calendar year and a maximum of either three consecutive days or two consecutive weekends. This adopts most of the rules on garage sales from the Business Tax Office except those pertaining to the hours of operation which are restricted to between 9AM and 6PM. In the current zoning ordinance, temporary outdoor sales in which the seller buys items to sell for the purpose of resale are not allowed in residential zones. Garage sales are permitted where the items for sale are the personal property of the owner.

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), on page 10-4 has been amended to require one of the dwelling units be occupied by the owner and off-street parking space is required.

Home occupations are amended on page 10-10 to bring back the current standard of a gross floor area for the home occupation of up to 25% of the dwelling and only products produced on the premises may be physically sold on the premises.

On page 13-5, sidewalk signs are only allowed in Downtown Knoxville district (DK) and approved Planned Development districts. In the previous Recode draft they would have been allowed in DK, SW, and CU meaning for example that you’d be able to have sidewalk signs along Kingston Pike.

On page 13-15, residential signs for home occupations. Under the 5th Recode draft, a properly approved home occupation can have one wall mounted sign with a maximum sign area of two square feet and the sign must not be illuminated. This is less signage than would be allowed under the current ordinance allows for the same wall mounted sign as well as a ground or column sign with a maximum area of two square feet and a maximum height of forty-two inches.

On page 16-4, the standards for special use are returned to current language for use on review, adding back in:
• The use is compatible with the character of the neighborhood where it is proposed, and with the size and location of buildings in the vicinity.
• The use will not significantly injure the value of adjacent property or by noise, lights, fumes, odors, vibration, traffic, congestion or other impacts detract from the immediate environment.
• The use is not of a nature or so located as to draw substantial additional traffic through residential streets.
• The nature of development in the surrounding area is not such as to pose a potential hazard to the proposed use or to create an undesirable environment for the proposed use.

On page 16-5, if a special use expires the Planning Commission may grant one extension for up to one year. The previous version of Recode had an open-ended extension period.

In section 16.3, the variance standards are returned to current language in section E.

On page 16-29, any person or entity may initiate a zoning interpretation application. Previously the language would have made this option available only for the purpose of furthering actual development.

Recode Knoxville: Exploring Draft 5 Zoning Code Revisions

The 5th Recode Draft will be available on April 30th as well as the 4th draft of the proposed zoning map. In this blog, you will see the Draft 5 revisions so you can review them as early as possible. In reviewing the Draft 5 zoning code revisions below, the bold items are the title and location of the revision from Draft 4. The highlighted items are new added language. The highlighted items with a (- and a -) enclosing that section have been deleted.

Zoning Code Revisions – Draft 5

Section 1.2
Revised subsection 1.2.b. as follows:
Promote orderly development of the City and implement the adopted Knoxville-Knox County General Plan (-and its component parts-), which incorporates more specialized adopted plans, including (-adopted-) sector plans, corridor plans, and small area plans adopted by City Council. (-related documents-)

Section 1.3
Revised subsection 1.3.A. as follows:
This Code applies to all land, uses, and structures within the City of Knoxville, with the exclusion of County, State, and Federally owned property. Privately owned properties leased by the County, State, and Federal governments are subject to this Code

Section 1.4
Revised to provide for Request for Change in Designation to Prior Zoning Equivalent

Section 2.3
New definitions or revised definitions as follows:
Accessory structure – use definition from current code

Accessory use – use definition from current code

Base zone

Home Occupation. Revise definition: Any (-commercial-) activity carried out for economic gain by a resident, conducted as an accessory use in the resident’s dwelling unit.

Knoxville-Knox County Planning. Refers to and is synonymous with the Metropolitan Planning Commission

Nightclub – define as requested by City Law Dept.

Self-Storage Facility: Enclosed. A facility for the storage of personal property where individual renters control and access individual storage spaces located within a fully enclosed building that is climate controlled. Retail sales of related items, such as moving supplies, and facility offices may also be included. Rental of vehicles and other equipment for moving is a separate use from self-storage facility. The heavy retail, rental, and service use (-must be allowed within the district-) shall only be allowed in districts that permit the use and shall require(-s-) separate approval.

Self-Storage Facility: Outdoor. A facility for the storage of personal property where individual renters control and access individual storage spaces and where each storage unit has individual access from the outdoors. Retail sales of related items, such as moving supplies, and facility offices may also be included. Rental of vehicles and other equipment for moving is a separate use from self-storage facility. The heavy retail, rental, and service use (-must be allowed within the district-) shall only be allowed in districts that permit the use and shall require(s-) separate approval.

Section 4.1
Revised as follows:
EN, RN-1, and RN-2 Zoning Districts identified as low density residential districts.

RN-3, RN-4, and RN-5 Zoning Districts identified as medium density residential districts.

RN-6 and RN-7 Zoning Districts identified as high density residential districts.

Table 4-1
Provides option/opportunity for more urban form in RN-6 district by revising dimensional standards for RN-6 as follows:
Minimum Front Setback – for properties within one mile of the DK District, measured from the edge of the property to the closest point of the DK district, and no parking in the front setback: 12 feet

Section 5.3.B.
Revised as follows:
B. In the (-O and-) C-N District(-s-), and in the O district when abutting single-family residential zones, nonresidential development is limited to the maximum gross floor area indicated in Table 5-1. Additional gross floor area may be permitted if, during site plan review, it is found that the development meets all of the following standards. If the development is being approved in conjunction with a special use, then a request for increased floor area will be reviewed as part of the special use, rather than site plan review

Table 5.1
Change maximum gross floor area for O District to 5,000 SF when abutting single-family residential districts unless meeting the standards of 5.3.b
Taller structures (over 45’) must setback additional 1’ for every 2’ in height over 45’ from any required setback when property abuts residential district

Article 7
Form codes inserted in their entirety

Section 8.7
Neighborhoods built more than 50 years ago, rather than prior to 1950, eligible for Infill Housing overlay

Section 8.9
Hillside Overlay provisions revised to apply only to residential development and to avoid conflicts with vested rights.

Table 9-1
Identify Heavy Retail, Rental, and Service as a permitted use in the I-G District

Identify Kennels as a permitted use in the IMU District

Identify Nightclub as a special use in the CG, CH, and CR districts

Section 9.2
Clarify that certain uses prohibited as standalone structures in Office Park district

Section 9.3.V. Neighborhood Nonresidential Reuse
Revise as follows:
Once approval of a neighborhood non-residential reuse is granted, the structure may be reused for any of the uses in item 2 below. Any change of an approved use to another use allowed within item 2 requires a new special use approval

Section 9.3.V.6 Neighborhood Nonresidential Reuse Sign Standards
Revise as follows:
6. (-Signs are those allowed in the C-N District.-) Signage shall comply with the following:
a. One monument sign and one attached sign (wall or projecting) on each street facing façade are permitted.
b. Monument signs shall have a maximum size of 12 square feet and a maximum height of 3 feet. Monument signs shall be setback a minimum of 2 feet from property lines and from rights-of-way.
c. Wall signs shall have a maximum size of 12 square feet.
d. Projecting signs shall have a maximum size of 4 square feet and must have a minimum clearance of 7 feet from ground.
e. Window signs shall not cover more than 20% of the window area.
f. Pole signs are prohibited.

Section 9.4.G. Temporary Outdoor Entertainment
Revised as follows:
1. Temporary outdoor entertainment in the residential districts is restricted to those events associated with and conducted by a place of worship, educational facility, or registered neighborhood association.

Section 9.4.H. Temporary Outdoor Sales
Revised as follows:
1. Temporary outdoor sales in the residential districts is restricted to those events associated with and conducted by a place of worship, educational facility, or registered neighborhood association.

4. Time Limits
Clarification provided on time limits
(Note – limit on extension of time limits for all temporary uses provided in Article 16.10 – one extension for one time period permitted upon approval of written request)

Section 10.2 Exterior Lighting
New standards added to reduce impact of exterior lighting on residential properties

Section 10.3.B.1. (ADU’s)
Revise as follows:
1.The design and size of the accessory dwelling unit (ADU) must conform to all applicable building codes. (-When there are practical difficulties involved in carrying out the provisions of the building codes, the building official may grant modifications for individual cases.-)

Section 10.3.b.11. (ADU’s)
Revise as follows:
11. (-No additional parking-) One off-street parking space is required for the ADU.

Section 10.3.R. Home Occupation
Revised as follows:
1.No more than one person, other than members of the household residing on the premises, may be engaged in such occupation in the home.

2.There must be no change in the outside residential appearance of the building. Outdoor storage is prohibited and no other visible evidence of the conduct of such home occupation is allowed. Signs are permitted in accordance with the standards of Article 13.

3.No traffic may be generated by such home occupation in greater volumes than would normally be expected in a residential neighborhood.

4.No equipment or process may be used in such home occupation that increases noise, vibration, glare, fumes, odors, or electrical interference detectable to the normal senses off the lot or outside the dwelling unit. In the case of electrical interference, no equipment or process may be used which creates visual or audible interference in any radio or television receivers off the premises or causes fluctuations in the line voltage off the premises.

5.Motor vehicle repair and vehicle dispatch for any business where vehicles to be dispatched congregate on site are prohibited as home occupations.

6.Day care homes are not considered a home occupation and are regulated as a principal use per Article 9.

7. Only products produced on premises may be physically sold from the premises. Internet and mail order sales are permitted.

8.The gross floor area devoted to the home occupation cannot exceed 25% of the gross floor area of the dwelling.

Section 11.1
Clarified that meeting parking standards on existing development is triggered when parking area is redeveloped, not when building is redeveloped or use changes

Section 14.10
Powers and authority of Tenn Technology Corridor Development Authority inserted

Section 15.3
Deleted proposed section and inserted revised section based on state legislation and current code

Section 16.1.F. Time Limit for City Council Action
Following time limit (from current code) inserted:
All amendments initiated by application filed with the Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission must be finally acted upon by the City Council within 120 days following the public hearing. Failure of the City Council finally to act upon any proposal within the 120 period is in all respects equivalent to rejection thereof. This 120 day limit does not apply to the adoption of comprehensive updates or revisions to the zoning regulations.

Section 16.2.F. (Standards for approval of Special Use)
Revised to insert standards in current ordinance for review of Use on Review

Section 16.3.E. (Standards for approval of Variance)
Revised to insert standards in current ordinance for review of Variance

Section 16.4.C.2.
Review of landscape plan delegated to Planning staff

Section 16.7.E.2. (Optional Concept Plan for Planned Development)
Revised to require mailed and posted notice of Planning Commission meeting at which concept plan, if provided, is reviewed

Section 16.8.B.2
Clarified that Level 1 certificates can be issued by staff in Neighborhood Conservation districts. Also revised COA flow chart to note Level 1 certificate for NC Districts

Section 16.10.F.
Revised as follows:
F. Expiration
The temporary use permit is valid for the time period (-granted as part of the approval set-) forth for the temporary use in Article 9.4. Unless stated otherwise in Article 9.4, the validity of a temporary use permit may be extended for one (1) time period upon approval of a written request.

Section 16.12 Zoning Appeals
Section reformatted and proposed procedures made compatible with current procedures

Section 17.4.A.
Provisions for use of nonconforming lot of record clarified – similar to language in current code

Recode Knoxville: Exploring Draft 5 Summary of Revisions

On Thursday night, I was invited to give an update to the Kingston Pike Sequoyah Hills Neighborhood Association on Recode. This was the second update I had the opportunity to present to the neighborhood. We had a great discussion and I really appreciate everyone who attended and shared their support, concerns, and questions.

To foster additional discussion, Bearden Village Council and I will host a second district-wide neighborhood discussion on Recode. All second district neighborhood residents as well as neighborhood association members and leadership are invited and encouraged to attend.

Second District Neighborhood Discussion: Recode
Thursday, May 9 at 6:00 p.m.
Holly’s Gourmet Market
5107 Kingston Pike

A week ago, I requested a summary of all the changes from the previous draft of Recode. The intent was to compare both versions and study proposed changes to the final draft, which will be released on April 30th. Here is a summary of revisions to the 5th draft. After I have a chance to fully review the revisions, I will post additional updates here.

Summary of Revisions to 5th Draft of Updated City of Knoxville Zoning Code

• Revisions made in response to Council direction and public comments, but address issues considered by Planning Commission in their review of the proposed zoning code update
• Spelling and grammatical revisions throughout code

Article 1
• Reference to adopted City plans
• Provision for Request for Change in Designation to Prior Zoning Equivalent added

Article 2
• New/revised definitions for approximately half dozen terms, typically using definitions in current code or clarification of wording

Article 3
• No revisions of note

Article 4
• Residential districts described as low, medium, or high density
• Reduced setback in RN-6 if within 1 mile of downtown to allow for more urban design

Article 5
• Restriction on structure size (5,000 SF) in 0ffice district unless design standards are met applicable only if adjacent to single family residential zone
• Blanket provision addressing height of taller buildings in mixed use zones when adjacent to single-family residential districts – building setback increase as height increases above 45’

Article 6
• Increase rear setback for industrial uses when adjacent to residential zones to 50’

Article 7
• Form based codes (SW and CU) inserted in their entirety

Article 8
• Neighborhoods built more than 50 years ago eligible for Infill Housing overlay
• Hillside Overlay provisions revised to apply only to residential development and to avoid conflicts with vested rights

Article 9
• Clarify that certain uses prohibited as standalone structures in Office Park district
• Change of neighborhood nonresidential reuse requires special use hearing
• Revised sign standards for neighborhood nonresidential reuse
• Clarification of number of temporary events and time limit for temporary events in residential districts
• Temporary events and temporary sales can be held by registered neighborhood organizations
Use Matrix (Table 9.1)
• Clarification of three uses

Article 10
• Revised exterior lighting standards to reduce impact of exterior lighting on residential properties
• Deleted authority for building official to grant modifications of building code requirements for ADU’s
• Require off-street parking for ADU’s
• Clarified permitted sales and percentage of home used for home occupations

Article 11
• Clarified that meeting parking standards on existing development is triggered when parking area is redeveloped, not when building is redeveloped or use changes

Article 12
• No significant changes

Article 13
• No significant changes – sign code inserted with zoning district references changed to reflect proposed districts

Article 14
• Powers and authority of Tenn Technology Corridor Development Authority inserted

Article 15
• Vested rights provisions clarified, using language from state legislation and current code

Article 16
• Time limit for action by City Council on code/map amendment recommendations clarified (language from current code)
• Standards from current code for approval of variances and special uses (use on review) replace proposed standards
• Review of landscape plan delegated to Planning staff
• Require mailed and posted notice of Planning Commission meeting at which Planned Development concept plan, if provided, is reviewed
• Limits on number of times and time period for which period of validity of approvals can be extended, generally one extension for one time period
• Appeals section reformatted and clarified by using language from current code

Article 17
• Clarification of se of nonconforming lot of record (language similar to that in current code)

Article 18
• No significant changes