The first revised draft of Recode Knoxville was released to the public yesterday. The revised draft includes substantive use revisions as well as revisions to some zoning procedures. Because the Internet always brings out the best in human discussions (I’m joking), I thought it fitting to discuss zoning, which is always the most interesting conversation topic (I’m not joking). Below are some of my initial observations as to substantive use revisions.

Multi-family apartments receive notably different treatment under the revised draft. The revised draft removes multi-family apartments as “special exceptions” (known as “uses-on-review” in Knoxville’s current zoning code) in the original draft’s newly formed Single-Family and Two-Family Residential Neighborhood Zoning District. However, the revised draft provides that multi-family apartments would be allowed as permitted uses in the Highway Commercial and Regional Commercial Zoning Districts. This would enable, for example, more multi-family apartment construction in and near areas typically dominated by retail use. The net effect appears to be that multi-family apartments would be permissible in more areas even though they would be permitted in fewer residential zones. Multi-family developments are also subject to parking requirement adjustments as described below.

The revised draft contains revisions to certain parking requirements. The original draft incorporated the recently approved parking regulations that the City of Knoxville passed last year. The revised draft retains these requirements but would allow (and would sometimes require) adjustments to those requirements in certain situations. Specifically, the revised draft would allow for potential reductions to parking minimums, ranging from 10% to 30%, in certain commercial areas.

Additionally, the revised draft would allow for a potential 20% reduction in parking minimums for multi-family developments when such developments are within one-fourth mile of a transit route. Notably, if a multi-family development would be located within one-fourth mile of a transit route, the parking maximums would automatically be reduced by 20%.

Further, the revised draft provides that a Knoxville Area Transit (“KAT”) approved shelter may be required on or within one-fourth mile of a multi-family development site. Thus, the practical effect of the potential KAT shelter requirement would also trigger the mandatory 20% reduction in parking maximums. Multi-family developers would be well-advised to consider what effect this may have on potential future multi-family developments and offer comments on the revised draft accordingly.

As to other changes, the original draft’s Industrial Office Park Zoning District, which would have general industrial and office uses in the same area, is replaced by an Office Park Zoning District, which would not permit general industrial uses. Various other uses permitted in the original draft’s Industrial Office Park Zoning District would no longer be permitted in the revised draft’s Office Park Zoning District.

The revised draft also creates a new Institutional Zoning District, which “is intended to accommodate . . . campus institutional uses such a healthcare institutions and educational facilities.” This zone would broadly accommodate education, healthcare, and social service uses.

This is not an exhaustive list of the substantive changes in the revised draft, and interested persons should endeavor to review how the revised draft affects them. A copy of the revised draft can be accessed here.

If you would like more information on this or any other matter, you may reach Richard Graves at (865) 546-9321.