Throughout the project, we’ll post questions and comments that have been submitted on comment cards collected at community meetings, sent via email or submitted via the website.

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What Does This Even Mean?

What does this even mean? "Our current zoning ordinance is very rigid and in some cases prevents neighborhoods from achieving their full potential. An updated ordinance can protect the things we value about our neighborhoods and commercial areas while allowing the kinds of smart, sustainable growth that will move Knoxville Forward" What is the definition of full potential, and give me three neighborhood examples of full potential. You're telling me that we can't build sidewalks in neighborhoods? Is this the "full potential?" What are three examples of "smart" growth in a neighborhood in Knoxville. What are three examples of "sustainable growth" in a neighborhood here.
Staff Reply:
Thanks for your comments regarding the updating of the City of Knoxville’s zoning ordinance. In response to your question regarding building sidewalks in neighborhoods, the short answer is no, the City cannot build sidewalks in all existing neighborhoods that lack them. The cost of retrofitting sidewalks (constructing them after development of the property occurs) is at a minimum $250 -$350 per linear foot. This cost covers land acquisition, design, grading, construction, stormwater drainage, utility relocation, and related costs. The cost of addressing all sidewalks identified on the City’s current priority list is approximately $150 Million. The cost to provide sidewalks on both sides of all streets in the City currently lacking them is at least $3 Billion. So no, the City cannot build sidewalks in all neighborhoods. The City is taking a pragmatic approach to sidewalk construction: budgeting more money for sidewalk construction and maintenance; beginning the development of a pedestrian priority plan that will identify and rank sidewalk needs so that future funding can be allocated to the greatest identified need; and drafting an ordinance that would require sidewalk construction when new development and major redevelopment occurs in the City.I will provide a couple examples of combined smart/sustainable development as in my opinion they are the same thing. The first example is the redevelopment of a vacant building at the corner of Sevierville Pike and Lancaster Drive to house a restaurant. An abandoned existing structure was repurposed for a use that serves the neighborhood and the broader community. The parking area is constructed of previous pavers and the site is well landscaped. The redevelopment of this property in a smart/sustainable manner will enable the building to be used for other purposes in the future should the current business relocate, close, or vacate the property for some other reason. Due to this thoughtful redevelopment, rather than a vacant building that detracts from the neighborhood there is a viable business at this location that serves and strengthens the neighborhood.Another example of smart/sustainable development is the redevelopment of the vacant building on Sevier Avenue that now houses Alliance Brewing and Three Bears Coffee. The redevelopment incorporated many sustainable features that will reduce its environmental footprint, from lighting to pavement materials. Once again, rather than a vacant building that detracts from the neighborhood this location now houses thriving businesses that serve and enhance the neighborhood.An example of a redevelopment made challenging by the current zoning ordinance, and thus difficult to reach the neighborhood’s full potential, is provided by the property at the corner of Broadway and East Glenwood Avenue. The City’s current zoning code requires significant parking (40 – 45 parking spaces) for the businesses in this building. Given the size of the property there is no way the current parking requirements could be met. In addition, the setback requirements in the current ordinance for this zoning district (25 feet front and side, 15 feet rear) make the existing building non-conforming. In order to redevelop this property, and assist in the neighborhood reaching its full potential, the owners had to incur the expense and delay of obtaining variances from the zoning requirements. An updated zoning code that acknowledged the character of existing neighborhoods will make it easier to redevelop properties such as this that serve neighborhoods and are easily accessible to neighborhood residents.With regard to neighborhoods reaching their full potential, I will provide a brief list of items that would be characteristics of a neighborhood that reached its full potential. Typical characteristics of a neighborhood that has reached its full potential are:
  • A variety of housing choices, from large single family homes to small apartments;
  • Access to transportation options, from private vehicles to transit to walking and biking;
  • Using vacant and blighted properties to provide amenities that are easily accessible to neighborhood residents. Examples of this include using vacant lots for mini-parks, children’s playgrounds, and/or community gardens.
  • Small commercial areas that are integrated into the neighborhood, of compatible scale, and that respect the neighborhood character.

Parking

We need to make sure that any commercial or multi-family development includes sufficient parking. People do not come to places where parking is a problem.We appear to have some bike lanes that extend only one or two blocks and do not connect to other bike-friendly roads, such as the bike lane on Knoxville zoo drive. These seem pointless. We need to think about usefulness when we create bike lanes.
Staff Reply:

Public Transit

We need Amtrak and Southwest Airlines! More trains to connect to Nashville, Chatt and Atlanta.
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Inskip

We do not need anymore apartments / condos in Inskip. We need more traffic calming and more police presence.
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Zoning Regulations

We desperately need sidewalks to connect neighborhoods to each other and to commercial districts for food and entertainment. We also need to bury utilities instead of cutting down trees around the utility lines. This is a never ending cycle. If we make the initial investment (albeit an expensive one) it will pay off in the long run. Obviously the annual expense of tree trimming will be less but it will add value to community both aesthetically and will attract more businesses in the long run. We want to keep Knoxville beautiful and if we keep massacring trees this is not possible!!
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Residential Development

Very displeased at the lack of opportunity for meaningful input when Wellsley Park Apartments were developed across the street (Wellsley Park Rd.) from our subdivision. City officials told us we would have an opportunity for input before site/building plans were approved, and some City officials did meet with us; but it was clear that by the time we were allowed input, the skids had already been greased and the developer's plans were merely a hair's breath away from approval. So our input was perfunctory only--officials at the City just checking off the box--without really listening to or considering our concerns. Among those were building height, traffic and parking, and landscaping. It was criminal that beautiful, mature birch and magnolia trees,which our subdivision had paid for years to maintain, were just bulldozed in constructing the apartments. No consideration was given by the developer to alternatives to save or transplant any of the existing beautiful landscaping along their side of Wellsley Park Rd. This should not be allowed to happen again. Thank you.
Staff Reply:

Sidewalks

Upkeep of side walks is tearable in Knoxville especially in the Ft Sanders area. They are broken up, blocked by brush, low hanging branches, cars parked on them.
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Wasteful Spending

Too many parks and greenways, You should do full studies of what age groups, and how many people use these facilities. The streets were made to drive on. Fix the pot holes. Pave the roads, they are in terrible shape. Stop wasting money on bicycle lanes, and unnecessary landscaping.Stop bringing in outside "experts" from big cities that don understand what the taxpayers really want
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Zoning

Tiny homes need to be allowable. Currently they are not.
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Additional Comments

This is your chance to really make a positive impact on the future of our community. I have a Master's Degree in Bioregional Planning, but got too depressed by the field- essentially just bowing to developers, so I know a little bit of what you're up against. It's a delicate balance. I bought a new house in an old neighborhood 9 years ago and ride my bike to work every day. Infill development is critical- sometimes it happens from developers like it did in my case, but most often it needs to be encouraged and incentivized. Mixed use is key. Connectivity. Sidewalks, bike lanes or at least shoulders or bikeable roads, greenways. Do what needs to be done to make transit a more viable option for people. Developers need to pay into the infrastructure and should be required to have sidewalks or other connectivity. Limit dead-ends. People should have options of how to get to home and to work etc- both in terms of mode of transport, and in terms of which direction to take- not only one way in and one way out which is far too common in Knoxville and every community in this country. Thanks for your efforts. I'm happy to help how I can.
Staff Reply:

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