Planning commissioners send Recode headache to City Council

Nick Della VolpeOn the Grow

At its Jan. 10 meeting, the Metropolitan Planning Commission — now called Knoxville-Knox County Planning — kicked the most recent Recode Knoxville documents on to City Council.


The approval vote came after first rejecting Commissioner Richard Graf’s motion to postpone the commission’s decision for 60 days to allow more time to make and resolve comments on the newly issued Text Draft 4 and Map Version 3. Several individuals questioned the lack of enforcement or follow-up on required landscaping requirements, and several developers requested fewer changes that might compromise/impact their existing zoning and planned uses and investments.

In making the motion to postpone, Graf agreed with citizen Jamie Rowe, who, speaking on behalf of Fountain City Town Hall, asked for more time for interested members to digest and comment on this nearly 300-page tome, which was released with three new chapters and many redline deletions and blue-ink additions over the Christmas holidays. Rowe wondered how many commissioners have fully reviewed the latest document. This was too important to simply push it through and then “tweak it” next year, as MPC (er, Knox Planning) Executive Director Gerald Green suggested. It “affects every parcel of land in Knoxville.”

Graf observed from issues raised by the varied speakers at the meeting that there were still outstanding issues to consider, and that a late-December release was “the worst time of year” for volunteers to make time to study the ordinance. Commissioners Art Clancy III and the Rev. Charles F. Lomax Jr., on the other hand, urged their colleagues to press on with approval and leave the various policy issues for City Council to resolve.

As a part of this discussion, Green urged approval now, asserting that numerous comments had been submitted, on both sides of developmental questions, and were considered during the staff’s review process. Many current comments were “simply repetitive of earlier comments” made during some 73 public meetings he said the staff has held.

Interestingly, Green asserted that he had already spoken to City Law Director Charles Swanson, who agreed that this draft ordinance had been sufficiently vetted by MPC such that City Council could make any changes it wished to make on the draft without the need to refer this matter back to the commission. That last remark appeared to give the commission permission to punt the ball off the field of play. And it did.

Clancy moved to adopt the current draft and “send it on to council to approve with any revisions they wish to make.” It passed. Knox Planning was off the hook.

Any good news? Citizens now understand where to address their remaining concerns.

Schedule. City Council will host several Recode workshops in the near future, and the East Tennessee Community Design Center will hold a design charette to test the application of proposed requirements on several specific properties on Feb. 1, with the public invited to learn their findings that evening.

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