Mayor Madeline Rogero has lobbed a grenade at Mayor-wannabe Marshall Stair. Rogero is pushing ahead with a vote on rezoning every parcel of land in the city – a proposal called Recode Knoxville – at a special city council meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, in the Main Assembly Room of the City County Building.
As a member of city council, Stair must vote on Recode. His opponents are not on the council and don’t have to vote. It’s a vote he cannot win.
Recode is still under construction. Former council member Nick Della Volpe has been following Recode for Knox TN Today. He says, “The mayor wants no more delay,” even though several council members have asked for more time to review the redraft that’s not yet released.
Led by Gerald Green, executive director of Knox Planning (formerly Metropolitan Planning Commission), planners have held multiple meetings, gathering input from residents and redrafting the plan. The most recent redraft has not been released by Green and the city’s Chicago-based consultant, Camiros.
Recode is a legacy for Rogero, who holds a degree from the University of Tennessee’s Graduate School of Planning. In eight years, Rogero has revamped Cumberland Avenue and promoted revitalization in South Knoxville including support for the Urban Wilderness and stopping the extension of the James White Parkway. She’s sponsored open-street events, public transit and bike routes. Plans are underway to revitalize Magnolia Avenue, North Broadway and Central Street.
Planners like to plan.
Recode proponents argue that local zoning ordinances have not been overhauled in 60 years. The plan generally supports higher residential density, especially near major connector streets, and urban concepts such as pocket parks and pedestrian connectivity.
Opponents counter that our zoning has evolved over time through compromise among neighborhood groups and developers. Wholesale change is worrisome. And even though Recode was launched in May 2017, opponents feel there’s not been enough time to carefully study the changes.
Rogero and others want a May vote before the political season heats up. The primary election is Aug. 27. I’d estimate 10 percent of city voters are pro Recode, 10 percent are against it and the other 80 percent don’t know Recode from a fried toad.
Stair’s dilemma: To support Recode means going against organized (and smart) homeowner-group leaders like Carlene Malone, Larry Silverstein and the ghost of Jean Teague. To oppose it means you’re out of sync with 2020 lifestyles and values. To call for delay makes you indecisive – already a problem for Stair given his record of recusals on council.
- Rogero’s budget address (her last) is at noon Friday, April 26, at the deserted stub of James White Parkway. There’s no parking so folks will have to bike, walk or take public transit.
- Mayor Glenn Jacobs will present the county’s budget (his first) at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 1, at Central High School, where there are ample acres of asphalt on which to park your car.
- Measles outlook: Spotty (stolen from The Washington Post)