By Steve Hunley
The City of Knoxville, citing the need to update and complete a comprehensive zoning plan that hasn’t changed in fifty years, is embarking upon making some significant changes that will affect the futures of tens of thousands of Knoxvillians.  Perhaps the biggest question is what’s the rush in attempting to pass the changes, which have already zipped through the Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission.  Likely the biggest reason and rush to push recoding through is it remains the only means for the city to grow.

In the past, the City of Knoxville merely reached out and gobbled up businesses and subdivisions through annexation.  City officials acknowledge the need to create greater “density” inside Knoxville.  Greater density inside the city will, of course, affect the tax rate, even for those living outside the city limits.  Greater density will mean some schools inside the city will begin to bulge with over-population and require new buildings, as well as affecting roads and other governmental services.

The city’s need for increased revenue is driving recoding.  Obviously, the City of Knoxville derives more revenue from apartment complexes and condominium complexes than a subdivision of homes sitting on a half-acre each.

The City of Knoxville is having an election this year, with Mayor Madeline Rogero term limited and three at-large seats on the City Council up for grabs.  Of course, city elections have become something of an embarrassment lately with fewer and fewer people participating.  Doubtless most Knoxvillians would be shocked to discover at least one member of the Knoxville City Council is a self-described “Democratic socialist.”  Another one is off and running for the Council this year and a smattering of his platform should chill the blood of rational voters who work for a living.  Basically, it boils down to a host of free stuff for folks, all paid for by people who work for a living.  All topped off by the notion that “the community” should control the use of land “around them for the collective good.”

Recoding might very well accomplish that very thing, to the disadvantage of homeowners’ associations and to the benefit of developers.

At least one mayoral hopeful, Marshall Stair, will be voting on recoding, unless he resorts to recusing himself.

Recoding in the City of Knoxville will change a host of things and there is plenty of reason it still needs considerable work before being ready for a vote by the legislative body.  Recoding is rife with serious flaws and Councilman George Wallace is entirely right when he says, “It’s a huge deal.  It affects every single property in the City of Knoxville and its land use.”  Now think about that for a moment – – – every single property in the City of Knoxville, all 73,000 parcels.

Folks can build a guest house on their property, or perhaps several, depending upon the size of the lot, or add a garage, things they cannot do currently under the zoning laws.

One thing is for certain, if you live in the City of Knoxville, you darn well better start paying attention.  If recoding is adopted, Knoxville, for better or worse, will never be the same again.