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.

One thought on “My Initial Review of Recode Draft 5

  1. Andrew, this is great. Thank you so much for doing this. Sorry I missed your presentation, but I had a conflict.
    As we discussed, Scenic Knoxville, Trees Knoxville and the Tree Board would like to see a Tree Mitigation Bank included in Article 12 LANDSCAPE. We have translated the proposal into the form of an amendment that we would like to see City Council adopt. Kasey Krouse has reviewed the language and supports it. We will have amendments for other proposals as well.


    The Tree Mitigation Bank is established as an alternative to maintaining or planting required trees and landscaping as specified in the Tree Protection Ordinance and in Article 12 of the zoning ordinance. Costs will accrue to the applicant to the degree it is not possible to maintain, replace or plant required trees and landscaping. The Tree Mitigation Bank provides a method of compliance in circumstances when the on-site maintenance and planting of required trees and landscaping is not possible due to site constraints, or for the mitigation of violations.

    Funds paid into the Tree Mitigation Bank will be used for the sole purpose of planting and maintaining trees and landscaping on public grounds and rights-of-way. The City of Knoxville urban forester will administer the account and determine when and where trees and landscaping are to be planted.

    A. When a strict application of the landscaping requirements or the use of an Alternative Landscape Design would require unreasonable compliance, an applicant may request permission to contribute to the Tree Mitigation Bank instead. Such situations could include water features, topography, lot configurations, utility maintenance zones, or unusual site conditions.

    B. To use the Tree Mitigation Bank, the applicant must submit a Tree Mitigation Bank request that includes a list of landscaping requirements unable to be met and the specific reasons why they cannot be met. The request must be submitted to and approved by the Administrative Review Committee. The Administrative Review Committee will determine the extent to which requirements cannot be met and contributions to the Tree Mitigation Bank can be substituted.

    C. Final permission to contribute to the Tree Mitigation Bank requires the Zoning Administrator’s approval concurrent with the application process for the development.

    D. Required contributions are based on current economics and can be determined by referring to ______ on the City of Knoxville website. This page will be maintained by the City’s urban forester.


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