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Recode Knoxville Gears Up for Public Meetings, More Revision

Metropolitan Planning Commission

Backers of Recode Knoxville are looking ahead to more public meetings this fall, after a second draft of a proposed ordinance was presented in late July.

The July 26 presentation primarily served as a status update, but the topic that attracted the most attention was a provision that would apply to accessory dwelling units (ADUs) – places like basement apartments, tiny homes and other living spaces in or near existing homes. The second draft of Recode would permit ADU’s in areas zoned for single-family residences. Supporters say that could increase the availability and affordability of housing in Knoxville.

The second draft also includes guidance for residential, industrial and retail development, as well as rules for agricultural land, historic properties and other special cases.

Zoning laws determine what property may be used for, and provides regulations and restrictions for buildings, houses, industry and commercial land. The July 26 meeting focused on changes made to the first draft based on public comments. Those comments were collected during a series of open houses held in May, where the public voiced what they would like in the new zoning regulations.

The proposed changes would be the first major overhaul of Knoxville’s zoning since the mid-1960’s.

“[The] ordinance was written decades ago, for land-use patterns of a very different era – the post-World War II suburban model. The ordinance may have made sense then. But as we’ve grown, and lifestyle choices have changed, the ordinance no longer fits our needs,” Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero said when Recode launched in 2016.

“City council members are generally supportive” of the changes, Metropolitan Planning Commission Executive Director Gerald Green said in an e-mail to WUOT.

Ideally, MPC says, the new zoning will be easy to use and understand. The rules would also recognize a population becoming increasingly older and more diverse. According to Recode’s website, the effort “will incorporate modern planning practices, be clearer and more consistent.” Obsolete regulations or portions of the zoning codes that contradict each other will be removed or resolved.

Now that a second draft has been approved, officials with the city and the Metropolitan Planning Commission will take the second draft on the road. A series of public meetings has been scheduled for August and September. Those sessions will be held at libraries, senior centers, churches and other locations.

“Based on comments and direction received, a third draft of the updated zoning code will be prepared and presented for public comment in October,” Green said.

MPC hopes a final version of the new codes will be approved by year’s end.

This story was researched and reported by WUOT News intern Colton Zenni.

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