SoKno urged to participate in Recode Knoxville

Betsy PickleFeature, South Knox

South Knoxville got a taste of Recode Knoxville Sept. 10.

The session hosted by the Knoxville Area Urban League, along with the Metropolitan Planning Commission, had a friendly, encouraging vibe thanks to the unflappable moderator, KAUL’s Terrence Carter. Carter kept the meeting on track and seemed to satisfy the 45-plus SoKno residents who came loaded with questions to the South Knoxville Community Center.


Terrence Carter talks to SoKno residents about Recode Knoxville. (Photos by Betsy Pickle)

Recode Knoxville is the city’s first attempt to update and create a comprehensive zoning plan in more than five decades. It will affect 73,000 parcels of land within the city limits, applying to everything except county-, state- and federally owned properties.

“Knoxville’s zoning codes have not been updated in more than 50 years now, almost 60,” said Carter. “So the zoning changes that are being … proposed now, once they are adopted, they will affect your property and our community and your neighborhood for the next 40 or 50 years as well.

“This is not one of these processes that everybody loves to go through, and it’s not one of these processes where you want to go through it a whole lot of times. But it is important, though, because the zoning and the ordinances and the regulations, they dictate what you can and cannot do on every single piece of property in the city of Knoxville.”

Attendees were offered an inch-thick, bound copy of the draft zoning code, “public draft version 2.0.” A quick flip-through was an assault on the eyes and the brain, but Carter tendered some good advice. Noting that residents of several SoKno neighborhoods were present, he suggested that the neighborhood groups share the work of studying and processing the information in the draft to break it down for their members. MPC wants as many people as possible to take the community outreach survey on recodeknoxville.com.

“The city is projected to grow, and grow rapidly, over the next several years … so by 2040, 170,000 new residents (will be) added to our community,” Carter said. “We want to be able to determine what we want that growth to look like – and manage it, if you will.”

Carter explained that MPC was partnering with KAUL, SEEED and Centro Hispano of East Tennessee to get the word out in underrepresented communities such as South Knoxville. Volunteers from SEEED have knocked on hundreds of doors to reach neighbors. KAUL is hosting a series of community meetings.

Carter used a series of slides to illustrate different types of development covered on the survey. Many of the examples were from SoKno, making the presentation relatable to the group.

“The most important thing about tonight is your input,” he said.

But while Carter urged people to take the survey and spread the word about it, his mantra for the evening was “submit comments.” The Recode Knoxville website offers the opportunity to submit comments and questions that address concerns about zoning in much greater depth than the survey allows.

City Council will hold a Recode Knoxville workshop 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, at the City County Building. KAUL will host its next Recode Knoxville meeting 8:30-10:30 Tuesday, Oct. 16, at CAC East Neighborhood Center, 4200 Asheville Highway (Holston Shopping Center).

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