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


Recode and Our 2nd District Neighborhoods

As City Council begins considering changes to the final draft of Recode, I wanted to take a moment to review some of the proposed changes and how they would impact our District 2 neighborhoods.

City Council Residential Recode Workshop
Wednesday, February 20th at 5:30 PM
City County Building – Main Assembly Room

District 2 Zones:

Currently, the predominate neighborhood zone in the 2nd District is R1 and R1E. Under the changes proposed in Recode, R1 and R1E are combined into RN1, which would become the primary neighborhood zone in the 2nd District. To review your current zone and compare potential changes under Recode, visit: Recode Map select Map 3 and then Compare Existing/Proposed Maps.

Minimum Lot Size:

Currently, the minimum lot size is 7,500 square feet. Within a RN1 zone, that minimum lot size is increased to 10,000 square feet for a single-family home and 15,000 for a two-family home. This increase in minimum lot size makes it more difficult to subdivide lots in most of the District’s RN1 neighborhoods as many of our lots are larger than the current minimum lot size.

Duplexes and ADUs:

A duplex would be allowed in RN1 under Recode as a special use. Duplexes are presently prohibited in R1E zones (like West Hills, Forest Heights, and Westwood) but allowed in R1 zones (like Sequoyah Hills, Westmoreland, and Deane Hill) as a use on review. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) would be allowed in all residential zones, however, either the primary or accessory structure would have to be occupied by the owner.

Home Occupations:

The home occupation next door is another significant change under Recode in all residential zones. Currently, home occupations are limited to no more than 25% of the dwelling unit and require use on review approval. Under the present code, there is a list of permitted occupations: artist, barber/beauty shop, professional office, teaching/tutoring, computer programming, telephone answering, and cooking. There is also a list of prohibited occupations, including tea room, tourist home, real estate office, convalescent home, funeral establishment, animal hospital, repair shop, and catering service. For complete list please see Article V, Section 12 Home Occupations and Home Offices.

Under Recode, Home Occupations would not require use on review (or special use) approval. Furthermore, the limitation of the 25% rule is eliminated as to are the lists of prohibited and permitted home occupations. In our existing ordinance it very clear that home occupations are not allowed in accessory buildings and that off-street parking is required, but these requirements are not in Recode. Further, the catch all that “stores, trades, or business of any kind not herein excepted shall not be deemed to be home occupations” has also been removed under Recode. All provisions governing home office which is a permitted use in R1E, but not in R1, have also been removed in Recode.

The Day Care In The House Next Door:

Under our current zoning ordinance, up to five (5) children who don’t live on the property can be cared for in a private home in all residential zoning districts, including R1 and R1E, as a right, without use on review approval. Under Recode, the number of children who can be cared for in a home is increased from 5 to 7 unrelated individuals who don’t live in the home. This could result in many more children than 7 being cared for in house next door because related children not living in the house could be cared for but not counted in the 7. It is important to note that under Recode a Day Care Home does not include caring for children from a single household. The off-street parking requirements under Article 5 section 7 are the same in the current zoning ordinance as in Recode.

The community is invited to attend each upcoming Recode workshop. If you have specific questions regarding District 2, I can be reached at

Remembering Those Who Serve This New Year’s

New Year’s Eve is always a time of celebration and remembrance. A time to stop and reflect on the many experiences and blessings of the past year. As I think back on 2018, I wanted to pause and remember those public servants who have been injured while serving our community. In January, KPD officer Jay Williams was shot and injured in the line of duty while making a traffic stop. In November, another KPD officer was injured when B.K. Hardin was attacked while directing traffic after a UT Football game. These incidents illustrate the dangers that our public servants are exposed to every day as they work to keep our community safe.

In 2017, our Knoxville Police Department responded to over 200,000 calls. The Knoxville Fire Department responded to 23,804 calls for assistance: 10,456 calls for emergency medical service, and 13,303 calls for non-EMS service. As you enjoy your own New Year’s festivities, please take a moment to remember those who have been injured in the line of service this year, and when you see an officer or firefighter, join me in thanking them for all they do.

Wishing you all a safe and happy new year! I look forward to seeing you in 2019.

ReCode: Out of the Weeds

At the opening of Council’s last ReCode workshop on September 20th, Vice Mayor Saunders warned us that we were likely to get in the weeds…and we certainly did. Many questions from the community emerged following the release of the initial ReCode drafts, and it’s important that we appropriately address those concerns as we move forward in this process.

During the workshop, Council reviewed the definition of “ancillary” and sought clarity on what was meant by “site.” We also reviewed what standards, if any, should exist for:
• Home occupations in residential zones
• Home daycare in residential zones
• Fencing around pools
• Number of pets allowed on a residential lot
• Proposed changes to addressing text or map amendments
• Removal of descriptive terms like “low” and “medium” density, while “high” density remained

Although this review was tedious at times, I believe it was a necessary exploration.

The key question here is: What do we want to accomplish with this unprecedented opportunity to guide the future of our city?

It’s important to get this right. Our current zoning ordinance is from the 1960s and although it’s been amended over the years, any missteps we make could be around for a long time due to grandfather exemptions. With the third ReCode draft due out shortly, I believe we need to consider the current landscape and how we’d like to see our community evolve in the coming years.

With that in mind, here are four key priorities to consider as we move forward:

An Updated and More User-Friendly Code:
In short, our new zoning code should make the complex simple. Considering the intricacy of the subject matter, revising our existing code with language that’s easier to understand is critical. As much as possible, we need to avoid complex definitions and offer a clear and transparent process. Clarity in definitions makes code enforcement significantly more practical and user friendly for residents. In the current draft, the matrix (Table 9-1) is a good example of increasing ease of use, allowing the user to more easily determine what is and is not permitted at a glance. We can also use this opportunity to remove some outdated uses, such as sections on horse drawn carriages, while adding in more recent trends like solar panels and electric car recharging stations.

Preservation of Our Residential Neighborhoods:
The character of our neighborhoods is important and should be preserved. For more than fifty years, our single-family low-density neighborhoods have been a stable place for residents to build a life and raise a family. It’s important to remember that the homes in these neighborhoods often represent the single largest investment for those residents. As we explore ReCode, we need to also work to maintain the unique character of our urban and suburban neighborhoods. Additionally, we must provide for a diversity of residential options so that everyone can find a place to call home in our community. Reasonable limits on home occupations and use within neighborhoods should remain consistent with the available infrastructure. This will continue to contribute to the relative stability and attractiveness of these neighborhoods and our overall community. There is space in ReCode to protect the unique character of our neighborhoods today and allow for flexibility in the future, as the needs of our community change.

Providing for Density and Affordability:
There has been a lot of discussion about growth in our city, and we must create a plan that allows for expansion and affordability. Unfortunately, as property values have continued to rise, wages have not grown at a similar pace. Should those trends continue, many of us will be priced out of our city. I don’t want to see our nurses, teachers, police, and firefighters move out of Knoxville, further away from where they work, due to lack of affordable housing.

As such, density should be appropriately focused along our corridors. This will provide more affordability and encourage more walkable, connected communities. Many neighborhoods aren’t set up to support density, but our corridors and nodes have the necessary infrastructure and transit options to support this growth. With mixed-use residential and commercial we can encourage a community where our neighbors can walk to work and leisure opportunities or catch a bus to anywhere in our city. By focusing density where it can be properly supported, we can maintain the character of our neighborhoods and provide for a variety of affordable housing options into the future. As we grow, shouldn’t affordable housing include homeownership options as well as rental opportunities?

Expanding Green Spaces:
Encouraging walkability requires key infrastructure investments like sidewalks and greenway expansion. The city has done a fantastic job of expanding and updating our green spaces as well as making existing communities more attractive, accessible, and walkable. We must continue these updates to promote a more interconnected and attractive city by further encouraging space for grass, trees, and plants that make Knoxville such an attractive place to live, work, and play.

Your input is critical in this process. There are a series of public meetings set in October, for a complete list visit The next ReCode public meeting in the 2nd District is on October 24th from 6-7PM at the Deane Hill Recreation Center. I hope to see you there and hear your thoughts on this important topic.

The Innovation City

Knoxville is uniquely poised to work with regional partners to drive economic growth and strengthen our brand as an “Innovation City.” The proximity of Oak Ridge National Lab, The University of Tennessee, and the Tennessee Valley Authority creates an environment for high-tech economic growth that is the envy of many metropolitan areas. These key regional economic partnerships can provide a competitive advantage for Knoxville in many developing technologies, including clean energy, advanced materials, and additive manufacturing.

Members of Knoxville City Council with a 3D printed Shelby Cobra. From Left to Right: Seema Singh-Perez (3rd District), Lauren Rider (4th District), Gwen McKenzie (6th District), Vice Mayor Finbarr Saunders (At-Large), and Andrew Roberto (2nd District).

According to Knoxville Chamber Vice President of Economic Development, Doug Lawyer, and Deputy to the Mayor, Bill Lyons, we’ve already been successful in attracting technological companies to our region because of the research and innovation taking place here. Local Motors and Cirrus Aircraft, for example, chose our community because the proximity to technology was a differentiator, as was the availability of partnerships with ORNL. Another example is SH Data Technologies, who committed to a major expansion in Knoxville after meeting with ORNL and touring the construction of their Summit super computer, capable of 200,000 trillion calculations per second.

Further demonstration of Knoxville’s unique position as an “Innovation City” occurred in late July when the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, a multi-state partnership led by UT-ORNL, held a conference in Knoxville to showcase its regional capabilities. Over 400 leaders in advanced manufacturing from all over the country participated.

While we have made significant strides in leveraging these economic advantages in developing fields, I believe we can and should do more. The conditions exist to accelerate the creation of new companies and attract and expand existing companies in advanced manufacturing and other emerging technologies, providing a sustainable network of opportunities and new jobs for Knoxville and our region.

There are two key steps we can take to advance this vision. First, we need to expand developing economic hubs in research areas including advanced materials, clean energy, and additive manufacturing. This focus will encourage entrepreneurs to take research technologies developed in our community to market and establish a home here for the high-paying technological industries of the future. The next step involves expanding partnerships with our local public schools and community colleges to establish a jobs pipeline, ensuring we have a workforce that is ready to fill these new jobs.

Recently, I partnered with the Knoxville Chamber and my colleagues on City Council to set up a tour of ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility. Key innovations in additive manufacturing, advanced composite materials, and batteries could have a lasting positive impact on our local economy. As a part of our tour, members of council saw a 3D printed Shelby Cobra and examined pellets used by the massive 3D printers to create products and geometries previously impossible to produce.

Councilmembers Rider (4th District) and Singh-Perez (3rd District) examine the pellets used in one of the 3D printers at the MDF.

These technologies are in the early stages of development, but it’s all happening right here in our back yard. We have a distinct advantage to lead the development of these economic hubs that will continue to emerge. The jobs of the future will go to communities that support innovation and have a skilled and ready workforce. Let’s work together to make sure Knoxville is ready, because opportunity is knocking!

Support Fulton High School – Help Us Stuff the Bus!

We all know that education is critical to the success of our city and our students can’t do their best without the school supplies they need. That’s why, during a recent lunch with Fulton High School Principal Rob Speas, I was saddened to learn that many of his students don’t come to school with the basic school supplies they need to complete their work. That conversation sparked the idea for our upcoming Stuff The Bus event.

What: Stuff the Bus – School Supply Donation Drive
Why: Benefits Fulton High School students for the 2018-19 school year
When: Saturday, July 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Tax Free Saturday)
Where: Broadway Shopping Center – 2001 North Broadway

Donations will be collected at the yellow school bus parked next to Suntrust bank
Requested Donations: Pencils, pens, highlighters, dry erase markers, binder clips, paper clips, notecards, folders, binders, spiral notebooks, copy paper, backpacks, sling backpacks, headphones, tissues, hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes.

I frequently receive questions about education from citizens throughout Knoxville and many of our neighbors want to know how council can help support our public schools. The City of Knoxville supports public education by providing 72 cents out of every dollar in sales tax to Knox County Schools, but I believe that council can also help directly by partnering with our schools in collaboration with local businesses and community organizations.

I’m excited to partner with fellow Councilmembers Lauren Rider (District 4) and Mark Campen, (District 5) along with the North Knoxville Business and Professional Association and merchants at the Broadway Shopping Center to collect these much-needed school supplies.

We need your help in supporting these deserving students, so please stop by and see us this Saturday from 10AM-4PM. We look forward to seeing you!

Revisiting Recode: Allowing for Continued Diversity in Residential Options

I have received several follow-up questions regarding my last blog entitled: “Shouldn’t Single-Family Low-Density Neighborhoods Continue in ReCode?” Many have asked how the first ReCode draft impacts specific neighborhoods other than those mentioned in the article. While I am unable to address every neighborhood in any one post, it makes sense to broaden our look at the potential impact Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) may have in several neighborhoods. If you have questions about a specific neighborhood, you can look up additional information at Look up your address and then select the zoning map on the left under planning and zoning maps.

In the 2nd District, Timbercrest and Farview Hills are currently zoned R1. The same is true for Middlebrook HIMG_0753eights, which is mainly located in the 6th District. Westwood and Forrest Heights are currently zoned R1E. As these neighborhoods are currently zoned R1 and R1E, ADUs are currently not permitted. However, in the first ReCode draft they would be allowed by right in these and all other residential zones.

I’ve also been asked about other neighborhoods outside the 2nd District. In general, ADUs are currently permitted downtown. As for specific neighborhoods outside of the 2nd District, ADUs are permitted in Parkridge, Edgewood Heights, and 4th and Gill, as these neighborhoods are all currently zoned R1A. The proposed changes in the first draft of ReCode would have no impact on the availability of ADUs in any of these areas, as they currently allow for garage apartments accessory to the principal dwelling by right. Follow this link to review permitted uses in R1A here.

The question about ADUs isn’t about exclusion. It’s a question of how neighborhoods were designed and what kind of use their infrastructure can support. I believe we should have a variety of residential options in Knoxville. I also believe that we shouldn’t make significant changes to those designated low-density single-family neighborhoods without some serious thought and discussion about the potential impact of this change.

As I referenced in the the last Council Workshop, many in R1 and R1E neighborhoods aren’t currently interested in changing their zone to R1A, which would allow them to have ADUs. With this in mind, why not offer subzones like RN-1A with no ADUs, and RN-1E with no Duplexes or ADUs, while allowing ADUs in RN-1? The addition of these subzones would allow for continued diversity in residential options in our community.

With all of the debate surrounding this important issue, I believe that additional public input and discussion is needed. I look forward to continuing to explore this issue with my neighbors in District 2 as well as city-wide.

Shouldn’t Single-Family Low-Density Neighborhoods Continue in ReCode?

What do you think of when you hear Single-Family Low-Density neighborhoods? Two neighborhoods in District 2 immediately come to my mind West Hills and Sequoyah Hills, as well as large sections of established neighborhoods across our city. These neighborhoods are primarily made up of R1 and R1e under Knoxville’s current zoning ordinance. These two zones are the most restrictive residential districts which are intended for low-density residential land uses. Neighborhoods under these zones are generally intended to be protected from non-residential encroachments like commercial activity and higher-density developments like apartments. To review the current R1 and R1e zones, please visit:


Knoxville is currently attempting to update our city’s Zoning Ordinances, which was originally drafted in the 1960’s, a process that started in 2016 and a first draft is currently available for review at There have been numerous public meetings regarding the ReCode efforts, and since the first draft was released, many more of our neighbors are getting engaged in this process.

At a recent Kingston Pike Sequoyah Hills meeting, I led a neighborhood discussion with MPC Planning Services Manager, Amy Brooks, answering community questions on proposed changes to R1, the dominant low density residential zone in that neighborhood. In the first draft of ReCode, R1 gets a new name RN-1 Single Family Residential District. Please follow the ReCode link above to section 4-1 to learn more RN-1 in the first draft. On whole RN-1 and R1 are very similar except for one very big difference, under the first draft Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s) would be allowed by right in all residential zones. An ADU is defined by the first ReCode draft as “an additional dwelling unit located on the same lot with and is incidental to, a principal single-family dwelling.” This ADU can be attached or detached but must include separate cooking and sanitary facilities as well as its own way in and out.

The addition of Accessory Dwelling Units is a significant change to our current ordinance for low-density single-family neighborhoods. If Accessory Dwelling Units are allowed in all residential zones, are we still providing for single-family or low-density neighborhoods? It is certainly true that Knoxville needs a variety of residential zones to accommodate low and high density uses as well as supporting the different ways we, as individual communities, want to organize our neighborhoods. Ultimately, one question for ReCode is do we as a city want to preserve single-family low-density neighborhoods and do the addition of ADUs represent encroachment in these zones we have been protecting against for decades?

It was clear that those in attendance at the Sequoyah meeting were unaware of this proposed change and the majority were against the allowance of ADU’s in their neighborhood. I’m currently planning a similar discussion in West Hills to learn that neighborhood’s perspective.

I believe we should have a variety of residential options while continuing to have low-density single-family neighborhoods in Knoxville. In my opinion, the allowance of ADUs in these zones is a concern as their addition appears to be contrary to the stated purpose of these zones, providing for a single-family low-density environment. There are many good reasons to have ADUs in some, but not all, residential zones including providing lower cost at home options for aging parents or for our children as they go to college or are getting started in their careers. If we as a city have found single-family low-density neighborhoods important enough to protect for almost 70 years, I think we should find a place for them in ReCode.

A Closer Look: Western Plaza and HB2156

Over the last ten days, there has been a great deal of discussion regarding the proposed development at Western Plaza. In order to fully understand what has occurred, I believe that it is important to clarify the history of HB2156 which sought to remove the building height limitation of 35 feet from Western Plaza. In essence, the Bill would treat Western Plaza the same as virtually all property West of that location.

WPHB2156 was filed on 1/31/2018 by Representative Rick Staples. It was then assigned to the House Transportation Committee on 2/5/2018 and later passed by this committee. Several local representatives serve on this committee, including Representative Eddie Smith. You can review the complete history of HB2156 here:

At the March 5th Executive Board meeting of the Kingston Pike Sequoyah Hills neighborhood association, I was asked to obtain a copy of HB2156 and confirm that the bill was limited only to the property at Western Plaza. As such, I forwarded the bill to representatives of the neighborhood association that same week. On March 20th, the House Transportation Committee heard HB2156 and it was passed unanimously by voice vote of all committee members, moving the bill forward towards the House floor for a vote. The video can be seen here:

Then, on April 8th, two months after HB2156 was assigned to the House Transportation Committee, and almost 3 weeks after voting to move the Bill forward, Representative Eddie Smith held a meeting with residents of Sequoyah Hills. I was also in attendance. The majority of those in attendance expressed support for a mixed-use development at Western Plaza, but also indicated that they weren’t comfortable moving forward without an actual plan for the proposal. Based on the very valid concerns of these citizens, I worked on a possible resolution for City Council to consider. The resolution requested that the Knox County delegation consider amendments that would give voice to the concerns of the neighbors at the meeting.

However, as events unfolded that day, it became clear to me that HB2156, in its current state, needed to be withdrawn rather than amended. At first, I thought that a resolution could address the issues raised by our concerned neighbors, but I soon determined that there was not enough time left in this legislative session for a plan from the developer to be, not only created, but reviewed by neighborhood representatives. Therefore, I called Representative Rick Staples and expressed these concerns to him directly. Following our discussion, Representative Staples took the appropriate action to “hold on the desk” the bill. This effectively suspended consideration of HB2156 in this session.

I want to be clear: I stand with the neighborhood majority who support the concept of mixed-use in Western Plaza. Like those in attendance, I believe a concept plan needs to be presented to the neighborhood for consideration and feedback. In the coming weeks, I will continue to meet with neighborhood representatives, the Bearden Council, and the developer to review any proposed plans and set up opportunities for neighborhood input.

I want to extend special thanks to the members of the Kingston Pike Sequoyah Hills neighborhood association and Bearden Council for their collaboration, constant communication, and hard work on behalf of our neighbors in District 2.