Recode Knoxville passes first reading

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Knoxville City Council meeting on Recode Knoxville lasted over 5 hours on the evening of July 16.

Protesters arrive at Recode Knoxville meeting on July 16, 2019 / Source: WVLT News

It drew protesters and supporters.

Ultimately, council members voted to pass the text of Recode Knoxville on the first reading; however, council members have still not discussed the zoning map, and it is separate from the passing of the code's text. The council postponed discussion of the zoning map until July 30.

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero gave a media briefing on the morning of July 16 about Recode Knoxville, a sprawling project meant to tackle the city's zoning codes.

The plan to update the city's zoning code began in 2017, the mayor said. "The current code was adopted over 50 years ago...It is often difficult for the average person to make sense of. It often discourages the kind of quality development people want."

The mayor said people "want more choice--like mixed-use developments along corridors, more affordable housing and options for business creation and commerce," which officials who support Recode Knoxville hope it will provide.

"Zoning creates a road map to achieve to achieve shared community goals related to development, equity, sustainability and quality of life," the mayor said.

The mayor said there has been "debate" and "unfortunately, distrust" when it comes to Recode Knoxville. "What I have also seen with Recode is a massive engagement of people from all parts of Knoxville who have talked, debated, then listened to one another and compromised to bring us where we are today," she said.

Mayor Rogero said she wanted to clear up some things about Recode. According to her, Recode Knoxville "is not a massive rezoning. Though the names of zones have changed, the vast majority of properties will be subject to the same rules under the new code as they are under the present code."

The mayor said if a property zone has changed, "it's typically been at the request of the owner, or to protect the character of the existing neighborhood, or to bring zoning in line with current use."

"No property owner will be forced to change the property's use. All current uses will be allowed to continue...unless the use is abandoned and not actively marketed for two years," she said.

The mayor said that the rezoning would not raise taxes; "Rather Recode will allow investment that grows the tax base and eases the pressure on existing homeowners and businesses."

So far, the recoding ordinance has gone through multiple drafts, which can be found here.

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