list of projects was distilled from hundreds of separate suggestions
received during the plan update process. Wherever possible, multiple
suggestions have been combined into one strategic project. The list
has been kept purposefully short, in order to focus on the implementation
of these projects are major undertakings that will require many months
or years to implement. The cooperation of a wide variety of stakeholders,
including government, the development community, and neighborhood and
business groups will be needed to accomplish these tasks.
Much of the content of our zoning ordinances was developed in another
era, when Knoxville was surrounded by sparsely populated, rural county.
During the general plan update process, staff received many suggestions
about improving the development regulations. Reasons given for improving
the regulations included:
development standards, to encourage attractive, convenient neighborhoods
and business districts.
and conservation of natural environmental features, such as hillsides,
creeks and woodlands.
flexibility to foster innovative development concepts.
affordable housing for all age and income groups.
Better standards for sidewalks, other pedestrian ways and bike routes.
of excessive design requirements for roadway widths and parking lot
predictability for homeowners as well as developers during the development
will probably be necessary to maintain separate ordinances for the City
of Knoxville and Knox County, but they should be as similar as practically
possible. Some of the major points of this proposal include the following
zoning, subdivision, and other land development ordinances into one
ordinance should spell out specific standards for permitted uses which
will result in quality development.
tables of permitted uses and dimensional requirements to make the
ordinance easier to use.
the ordinance profusely to better communicate what is expected.
Minimum standards for construction of roads are necessary to protect
the safety of the public, minimize tax-funded maintenance costs, and
promote convenient, efficient travel. Traffic engineers and planners
have been coming to the realization that many cities have adopted well
intended standards that actually add to the cost of development, result
in more water pollution and flooding, and detract from pedestrian safety.
Communities have seen the benefits of taking a closer look at traffic
safety, the needs of pedestrians, and the impact of road standards on
development costs. The following draft standards will be used as a starting
point to develop improved designs for thoroughfares and residential
streets, working with local government engineers, developers, designers,
Utilities, either above or underground, may be located in alleyways
to provide service connections to rear elevations. Generally 12 feet
in width, additional pavement at alleyway intersections may be necessary
to facilitate turns.
20 feet (minimum)
either above or underground, may be located in alleyways to provide
service connections to rear elevations
12 feet (minimum)
pavement at alleyway intersections is necessary to facilitate turns.
trees to side of garages; smaller trees could be planted toward
outside portion of the right-of-way where they would not interfere
with access to garages
Relatively short streets - two to six blocks long - that provide access
width: 18 to 22 feet with curb and gutter and informal parking designated
strips: 6-foot minimum
5 feet on at least one side
speed: 20 mph
speed: 20 mph
a 40- to 44-foot right-of-way
curb and gutter
less than 1,000 feet
The basic residential street; a few early Knoxville streets are similar,
improvements in the Mechanicsville Commons provide a recent example.
width: 24 to 26 feet with curb and gutter and informal parking
strips: 6 foot minimum
generally, 5 feet on each side (varies with density)
speed: 20 mph
speed: 20 mph
a 50-foot right-of-way
curb and gutter
two to six blocks long
Avenues are medium speed connectors between a core area such as downtown
and neighborhoods. Adjoining land uses can include a mix of residential,
office and commercial uses, including a vertical mix of those uses
within a building.
width: 26 feet on both sides of median with on-street parking; 18
feet if no parking or curb and gutter
width: 18 feet (minimum)
lanes: 11 to 12 feet
2 travel lanes
lanes and planting strips: 6 feet
5 to 8 feet depending upon intensity of adjoining land use
speed: 30 mph (maximum)
speed: 25-30 mph
depends upon width of design features
curb and gutter
Can be used to provide connections through parts of the city. Adjoining
land uses can include a variety of uses, including various residential
types, commercial, office, and institutional uses.
11 feet with striped parking and bike lanes
of 4 travel lanes
width: 20 feet is recommended
strips: 6 to 11 feet
5 to 8 feet, depending upon intensity of adjoining land use
speed: 40 mph (maximum)
speed: 30-35 mph
depends upon the width of design features
curb and gutter
Parkways are designed to provide access through parts of a region,
to be on the edges of a community, and to protect or enhance natural
settings. They are designed to blend with the terrain.
lanes: 11-12 feet
width: 30 feet is recommended minimum
speed: 50 mph (maximum)
speed: 45 mph (maximum)
depends upon width of design features
swales allowed, or curb & gutter
trails: 10-14 feet
strips: 7-20 feet
lane not adjacent to travel lane; multi-use trails may be on one
or both sides
feet minimum paved shoulder on high-speed parkway (greater than
45 mph: typical section has shoulder with ditches)
The Knox County Engineering and Public Works Department, assisted by
the Tennessee Valley Authority, has formed a broad coalition of interests
to identify ways to substantially reduce water pollution and other environmental
problems that can be unintended consequences of the development process.
Using environmentally friendly development principles developed by the
Center for Watershed Protection as a starting point, roundtable participants
will advise the MPC and County Commission on changes in the development
review process. Regulations will be suggested based on ability to achieve
the reductions in water pollution as mandated by the federal government
under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program.
Reducing the number of miles traveled by motor vehicles is one of the
best ways to improve air quality. The Knoxville Regional Transportation
Planning Organization (TPO) has initiated a regional Smart Trips Program
to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality by reducing single-occupant
vehicle trips. Smart Trips will encourage a balance of enhanced transportation
choices and incentives to reduce automobile travel.
main component of Smart Trips is the implementation of commute trip
reduction (CTR) programs at individual worksites. Getting businesses
involved in promoting transportation choices and implementing Smart
Trips strategies is vital to the success of the Program. Smart Trips
will also include a marketing/public information campaign describing
the benefits of transportation choices and encouraging people to try
another travel mode “once a week, or more if you want.”
Major streets such as Clinton Highway, Chapman Highway and Kingston
Pike serve as major entry points to Knox County from surrounding counties.
A major entry gives a first impression of a community, and the images
along the street such as signs and landscape offer a lasting impression
to a visitor. Improving these corridors to incorporate safety, accommodate
pedestrian, bicycle and bus transportation with improved landscaping
and access to adjacent businesses can greatly improve a community’s
proposes to work with state and local governments, businesses and property
owners on transforming our gateway corridors into a pleasant driving
experience that enhances safety and economic development through the
a wide range of transportation modal options with particular emphasis
on transit, bicycle and pedestrian networks.
opportunity areas that will support a wide range of mixed-use development
options that transform the roads into activity corridors.
gateway corridors that enhance the beauty of Knoxville and Knox County
through landscape design.
the safety of the traveling public through appropriate road and access
The Early Action Compact (EAC) will identify an air quality improvement
plan for the Knoxville area that could result in a faster timeline for
emission reductions and greater flexibility in selecting reduction measures.
Several agencies will be involved in this effort, such as the Knox County
Department of Air Quality Management, Tennessee Department of Environment
and Conservation, Knoxville Regional TPO, Tennessee Department of Transportation,
and local officials from Knox and other affected counties in the region.
Close coordination among these agencies will be necessary in order to
satisfy the strict requirements set forth by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency for EAC’s.
the Knoxville region is in attainment with the current ozone standard,
it is expected to lose this status when new standards are enacted in
2004. The Knoxville EAC, if successful, will cause the effective date
of the non-attainment designation to be deferred, which will help to
avoid the stigma, cost and economic development impacts of non-attainment.
Neighborhoods and Communities
The character of neighborhoods and communities varies greatly, depending
on their age, natural features, architecture, layout and community facilities.
Strong neighborhoods – including older neighborhoods – tend to have
a well conserved landscape, harmonious architecture, sound schools and
well designed parks. These are elements that sustain communities. In
conserving 20th century neighborhoods and developing new communities
in this century, the following actions are proposed:
the identity and viability of neighborhoods through the design and
locations of civic buildings, roads and open spaces.
capital improvements, including roads, utilities, schools and parks,
so that communities are ready for the impacts of growth.
provisions for park and open space dedications, as part of the unified
community councils, covering each area of the city and county, to
foster citizen participation in planning and opportunities to review
public and private development proposals.
development guidelines for infill housing and neighborhood-oriented
commercial development that fits the architectural context of surrounding
street and yard trees in older neighborhoods.
Business districts take several forms, including business or industrial
parks, shopping centers, office parks, commercial corridors. Just as
successful neighborhoods or towns have distinctive identities, successful
business districts should have clearly defined boundaries, be well organized,
and should be pleasing, memorable destinations. Whether a business district
is developed as a unit by one developer or evolves through the action
of many business owners, attractive design, an efficient layout, and
convenient transportation access are critical factors in developing
sustainable centers for economic activity. Examples of business destinations
with clear identities include downtown Knoxville, the Technology Corridor
on Pellissippi Parkway, and the Homberg area in Bearden Village.
order to provide expanded employment, shopping and entertainment opportunities,
enhance the tax base and combat the decline and obsolescence of commercial
areas, the following actions are proposed:
regulatory barriers to mixed-use development.
formation of voluntary associations of owners and tenants in business
design guidelines to provide coordinated design themes for emerging
public elements of business districts—streets, sidewalks, directional
signs, lighting, and open space—to reinforce the district’s identity.
civic uses such as municipal service centers and branch libraries
within business districts when appropriate.
and target capital improvements to support the growth of business
centers in the best locations.
Downtown: Civic Vision
A series of guiding principles created by the Nine Counties One Vision
downtown task force outlines interrelated ways in which downtown development
can be maximized so as to create a more vibrant downtown. These principles
have been the basis of success in many other cities. The guiding principles
have been circulated to the public as a draft document, generating broad
support and enthusiasm. Within Downtown Knoxville, many opportunities
exist for potential development, consistent with the guiding principles.
downtown plan is now being developed by citizens, guided by an urban
design consultant. Components of the plan will include:
Urban Design Plan
Strategic Investment Plan to identify future areas for investment
from both the public and private sectors.
To encourage growth in the existing urban areas of the City and County,
conservation of historic and architectural resources is a logical place
to start, since historic sites and buildings can create a marketable
identity for neighborhoods and business districts. A growing body of
research demonstrates that historic preservation results in faster than
“market rate” appreciation of property values. Preservation also stimulates
the tourism market.
order to take advantage of the benefits of historic preservation and
neighborhood conservation, the following actions are proposed:
preservation planning with plans for land use, economic development,
and capital improvements, using the recently approved Knoxville City
Charter Amendment regarding an annual report by the Mayor on historic
a broader array of financial tools and incentives to promote preservation.
technical assistance to building owners needing help in architectural
design, rehabilitation, and financing preservation projects.
to identify historic resources and establish historic zoning and neighborhood
Tree-covered ridges, pristine streams, woodlands and prime farmland
are assets that are valued by Knox County residents. Citizens spoke
about the conservation of these features time and again when developing
this plan, noting that they form a natural heritage that should be protected
or rehabilitated for the benefit of future generations.
ridge, stream and river corridors as special areas with unique environmental
and scenic values, identifying areas to conserve and the development
opportunities that are consistent with the values.
a Rural Heritage Strategy to preserve prime agricultural land, including
agricultural protective zoning, conservation easements and transfer
of development rights.
an Urban Forestry Plan for Knox County, to protect woodlands and plant
trees, including the creation of a city-county tree board.
standards to rehabilitate hillsides and streams and to avoid disturbances
of those assets in the future.
Greater coordination of planning and construction of community facilities
and infrastructure is needed, including schools, libraries, other public
buildings, roads, and utilities. The development community should be
included in this process, so that they can advise and inform the other
participants of the issues and opportunities related to schools and
infrastructure, as well as potential future trends in development.
of a Capital Improvements Coordinating Committee to share information
between the Knox County School Board, utility districts, the city,
county and state highway department.
and maintenance of maps showing improvements anticipated by the local
governments, school board and utility districts. Combine these maps
with development trend maps.
briefings or reports to the committee members on current and future
development trends from MPC, the Home Builders Association, and other
land development experts.
A diversified economy is a key component of economic health and sustainability.
development initiatives include:
development of an inventory of critical employment sites throughout
the county. Maintenance of this database will be coordinated between
the MPC, the Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership and other appropriate
agencies and groups.
removal of development obstacles, by identifying necessary improvements
in utility and transportation services and setting aside the land
for future employment sites. This can be done by working with the
local utility districts and the Knoxville Regional Transportation
Planning Organization. Recommended improvements should be included
in the city and county capital budgets as a way to provide needed
infrastructure and public service upgrades.
creation of a Brownfield Sites Coordinator in both city and county
governments to oversee and facilitate the identification and cleanup
of ‘brown-field’ and ‘gray-field’ sites for redevelopment.
Many of the problems facing Knoxville and Knox County are regional issues
that do not respect political boundaries. Because regional governance
is rare in America, successful resolution of regional issues often must
rely on coalition building and voluntary cooperation. To create a more
desirable region both now and in the future, a regional approach is
needed for the following initiatives:
open space and greenway trail connectivity. This includes connecting
Knoxville and Knox County with other parts of the region by developing
a continuous system of blueway and greenway trail corridors. Alignment
should be determined by natural conditions and, when possible, by
the availability of unused paths such as rails and power line easements.
together to maintain environmental quality. Efforts can include repairing,
preserving and protecting the natural environment by setting aside
green, restorative settings and by promoting clean industry and communities
that are not auto dependant.
a transportation system on both roads and mass transit. Roads should
effectively connect all parts of the region, and be of adequate capacity
to handle reasonable traffic demands without creating unnecessary
new demand. The regional transportation system should be designed
not to conflict with core principles of building sustainable, viable,
multi-use communities. The regional system should accommodate automobiles,
public transit, public safety vehicles, freight, pedestrians, boats
and bicycles in a balanced way to maximize access and mobility throughout
on economic development. The Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership along
with the East Tennessee Economic Development Agency have identified
opportunities to coordinate economic development initiatives on a
For example, the Jobs Now! Campaign is a coordinated effort between
ETEDA, the Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership, Oak Ridge and Blount
Economic Partnerships to raise $10.75 million in local public and
private funds for regional marketing initiatives and increase job
creation, retention and recruitment in the region. The goal will be
35,000 new jobs in the next five years and $2.5 billion in new capital
In another successful program called Technology Mining and Matching
Program, the Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership is partnering with
the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to help industries in the region
access the resources and services of the DOE Complex.
The aim is to enhance the economic wealth of the region by sharing
technology, enhancing productivity, creating new products and solving
technical problems. The program also supports the recruitment of new
businesses considering the region. The major focus is on identifying
and sharing manufacturing and engineering technologies, government
user facilities, equipment and personnel.
The Knoxville Chamber also continues its existing industry program.
With partners, they call on more than 200 companies in the area for
the purpose of making resources in the community available to ensure
the continued success of existing businesses.
Updating the elements of the General Plan is a continuous process requiring
broad-based public participation. MPC will continue working to improve
and enhance efforts to involve the public in all aspects of land use
planning and decision making.