How "Recode" Effects You

UPDATE: Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero said the proposed Recode Knoxville overhaul of Knoxville’s zoning ordinances is not ready for a vote today and City Council should consider staff recommendations this afternoon, according to her prepared remarks.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – City leaders are set to vote on a proposed zoning overhaul, known as Recode Knoxville, in a special called meeting Tuesday at 3 p.m. 

We’ve confirmed at least five on the city council members want to postpone a vote on the first reading on the more than 400-page ordinance. We won’t know what happens until it happens. 

What is Recode? 

Before we break down what Recode Knoxville could change, let’s first look at what zoning does.

RECODE KNOXVILLE: Look up your zoning

If you own your own home, you may not want to live next to a landfill, huge apartment complex, or a mall. Zoning determines what you can build and where you can build it. If Recode Knoxville passes, it will alter the zoning designation of every home and business in the city. 

The last comprehensive zoning ordinance passed in Knoxville was in 1963.

That year was the same year the Shields-Watkins Field became Neyland Stadium. Planning officials explain the zoning then was created to grow outer parts of the city and if left inner-Knoxville without enough housing, transportation, jobs, and shopping to keep up with a growing population. 

Data from the Boyd Center shows when Knox County grows, Knoxville grows. It has it that for every 10 people that move to the county, on average, about three of them come to the city.

By the end of 2019, Knox County is expected to grow by nearly 5,000 people. That’s 1,500 coming to Knoxville. That same math shows Knoxville will pick up 24,000 more people by 2040 and 45,000 more by 2016. Recode aims to create more density for a growing population and making areas of the city more walkable.

RELATED: Recode Knoxville website

Councilwoman Lauren Rider spent her Mother’s Day weekend pouring over the proposed zoning map. She wants to make sure property owners in her North Knoxville district to know how the proposal does or does not affect them. She wants to make sure neighborhoods in her district, like one zoned R1-A today that allows single-family houses and duplexes, are proposed to be zoned to something similar or the same. R1-A is set to become an RN-2, which actually only allows single-family homes, with duplexes only on special review. 

Rider also wants to make sure homeowners understand these changes are about what can be built if a property is sold or vacant.

“It’s about the future. So, if you have empty parcels, the zoning changes impact what you can do with that in the future,” she said. This is why she said it’s important to take the time to make sure no changes to abutting commercial zones could have a negative impact on people in her district. 

The Recode process

There have been a few dozen public meetings, five city council workshops, countless changes, and five drafts. There have been two years of discussion, but many city leaders are unsure about whether Tuesday the right time to vote. 

A report by Camiros, the Chicago-based consultant hired to help update Knoxville’s zoning laws, showed the city should strive toward a set of goals for growth, including: 

expand temporary uses that can occur on private property with more flexibility and a wide range of modern useschange the minimum lot requirements in places where the current lot width is 75 feet to build a single-family home because it “doesn’t match current development patterns. open up opportunities or strengthen a neighborhood’s distinction zone residential areas from lowest to the highest range of intensities update home occupations to match modern jobs address accessory dwelling unitsform comprehensive landscape requirements form exterior lighting standards 

What’s in Recode

– ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) are allowed in each residential zone. The most recent draft requires a certain lot size, required off-street parking and that the owner lives on the property. 

– Mixed-use zoning in commercial areas on Kingston Pike, Broadway, Chapman Highway, and Magnolia Avenue 

– Design standards for future housing, excluding single-family homes

– Design standards for commercial properties along corridors zoned CG-2, those not meeting standard considered non-conforming.

– Changes to working from home, including adding more modern occupations to list, limit how many people can work at home, allow work to go on in ADU 

– Hillside Protection Overlay Zoning Districts, which aim to protect steepers slopes by limiting density and percentage of grading on those properties. 

– No new mobile home parks in the city, but new mobile homes can still be placed in existing parks. 

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