Mon
Sep 12 2022
05:45 pm

It's not just developers in the county who are trying to avoid community input.

A development has been proposed on Blount Avenue that is far beyond what is allowed by code. This is at at 451 W. Blount Avenue, just west of CityView. The Zoning Administrator for the South Waterfront made a decision to treat this project as a Level II rather than as a Level III. The effect of this is no allowances for community input.
In fact, the public was not informed that these reviews are taking place other than a small sign.

There are major differences proposed from what is allowed by code, including a building height that is 29% higher than allowed and a building footprint that is 127% larger than the size allowed by zoning. What this does is create solid blocks separating the river from Blount avenue and the neighborhood to the south. There are other deviations being argued but the important issue is the developers and the city are calling for approval with no input from residents.

Even if you don't care about my neighborhood or this building, think of the precedent it sets for other developers in the city.

Residents and community leaders are appealing this direction.
Please contact BZA in support of this appeal and in support of the community having input into this process. Send your comments to Jennifer Scobee - jscobee@knoxvilletn.gov - by no later than Friday, September 16th to be included in the agenda packet. Please reference Agenda Item 9G22VA in your correspondence. ALSO, if possible, please show support by attending the BZA meeting September 20 at 4 p.m. in the Small Assembly Room of the City County Building.

For additional information, you can review the appeal at 9G22VA.pdf (civiclive.com). Scroll to read the narrative page for details on the reasons for appealing this administrative decision.

We deserve better from our city.

Rachel's picture

I've been working on this

I've been working on this with other south knoxvillians. I'm including the email we're sending out asking people to support the appeal. If you want to comment to BZA you might get some good talking points from this. The South Waterfront is a big deal to south Knoxville and I hope you guys will help us with the appeal.

I lost the format for the table but the first # is the required standard for this SW district, the second is what the developer wants, and the third is the % deviation from the required standard.

Friends of the South Waterfront,

We need your help supporting an appeal about a proposed development at 451 W. Blount Avenue, just west of CityView. The Zoning Administrator for the South Waterfront made a decision to treat this project as a Level II rather than as a Level III. We are appealing that decision to BZA.

Level II Development Plan Reviews are intended for projects with no major deviations from the South Waterfront Form Code. They are conducted and approved by City staff. There is no public input. In fact, the public is not informed that these reviews are taking place. For projects that meet code, this is not a problem.

According to the South Waterfront Form Code, a Level III Alternative Compliance Review is intended for development proposals that would “not otherwise be allowed under a strict interpretation of the Form District regulations.” Level III reviews require approval by the Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission (formerly MPC). A Level III review is intended to put “more eyes” on the project, including the opportunity for review by the public.

The plan submitted for this development is significantly misaligned with the South Waterfront Vision Plan and deviates from the South Waterfront Form Code in multiple and substantial ways, as shown in the following table.

Area SW4 Standards from 7.3.1.E Deviations Requested Percentage Deviation
Block Size perimeter 1,400 linear ft. max 1,922 37.3% increase
Lot size 3 acres max 5.5 acres 83.3% increase
Front Setback 10 ft max 37.5 ft on northwestern portion 275% increase
Building height 50 ft max 64.5 ft 29% increase
Building footprint 30,000 sq ft max 68,087 sq ft 127% increase
Ground level transparency Minimum of 70% 38.5% for building A, 48% for building B 45% decrease for building A, 31% decrease for building B

Clearly this proposed plan needs a Level III review. Failure to conduct that review violates the Form Code itself. It also sets an undesirable precedent for handling future proposed projects.
The South Waterfront Vision Plan and Form Code were developed in a transparent process with a great deal of community participation. When a proposal deviates this significantly from the Form Code, the community deserves a chance to review and comment. A Level III review provides that opportunity.

Please contact BZA in support of this appeal. Send your comments to Jennifer Scobee - jscobee@knoxvilletn.gov - by no later than Friday, September 16th to be included in the agenda packet. Please reference Agenda Item 9G22VA in your correspondence. ALSO, if possible, please show support by attending the BZA meeting September 20 at 4 p.m. in the Small Assembly Room of the City County Building.

For additional information, you can review the appeal at 9G22VA.pdf (civiclive.com). Scroll to read the narrative page for details on the reasons for appealing this administrative decision.

You can find information about Form Code districts here: (link...)

If you have questions, contact Rachel Craig at 865-919-3476, rlcraig@usit.net, or Janice Tocher at 865-661-1685, jtocher@bellsouth.net.

Thanks so much for your support!

bizgrrl's picture

Excellent information from

Excellent information from both of you. Thanks for letting us all know about this project. Developers are out of control. And, thus it is possible the local governments are letting this happen?

Up Goose Creek's picture

Government

I'm not sure you can blame the developers when it is a government employee who allows this to happen without input.

Who is the Zoning Administrator for the South Knoxville Waterfront and what is their background?

jbr's picture

Zoning info?

Maybe I am missing it but I do not see any staff listing of Zoning Administrators. Although not sure where to look.

Knox Planning - Zoning

Rachel's picture

We don't know exactly who it

We don't know exactly who it is either. Somebody in Plans Review. Peter Ahrens is the director and probably has the last word.

jlynn's picture

Thanks for this posting

Appreciate those who posted and are participating in this discussion!

I have filed this appeal because I believe it is SO very important that the hard work of the community from 15+ years ago to create and work through the issues of the South Waterfront Code is honored. One important aspect of the form-based code is the administrative review and what level the project warrants.

As has already been mentioned, the deviances from the code are so extreme, it's difficult to understand how Plans Review and Inspection AND Planning staff who reviewed this development project agreed that this is a Level II review - with no public process.

For some odd reason, the text to view the appeal is not linked. Here's the linked file

I feel certain that if this project had been a Level III review, there are plenty of individuals who would have showed up to voice concerns about requested variances.

For those who are interested, here's a link to the audio of the BZA meeting (Starts at 1h 26m 20s)

I was interested to note their reference to CityView - which also did not follow the code - as setting a precedent. The South Waterfront Code was adopted in Feb 2007 and based on what I could find, CityView was built in 2008. I don’t remember the entire history of the project but I do remember it was started (then stalled, then started again) well before meetings started on the South Waterfront code, so it’s not an ‘apples to apples’ comparison to say that development set a precedent.

NOTE: I got curious about CityView history and found this KnoxNews article from Sept. 2009.

Please do write in support of following the spirit of the South Waterfront Code and come to the meeting if you can.

Rachel's picture

Please guys, don't jump on

Please guys, don't jump on the developers. They submitted a plan that was out of code, true. But it's the City's job to review these plans according to procedures in the code, and that didn't happen this time. We are appealing the City's decision.

Also, we have three speakers lined up but have been told that BZA chair will probably let anyone speak who wishes to do so. If you DO decdide to speak, please keep in mind we're appealing the City's decision not to give a project with ginormous deviations from the code a review at MPC, which would also let the public get involved. That's the bottom line.

And please send in your comments. Try to include where you live and why the southwaterfront is important to you.

Give me a yell if you have questions. 919-3476.

jbr's picture

Knoxville Plans Review

Mike Robinson?

Knoxville Plans Review

Rachel's picture

Doesn't matter at the point.

Doesn't matter at the point. I guess we'll hear from whoever at the BZA mleeting.

bizgrrl's picture

Of course it is government's

Of course it is government's issue. However, I get so sick of developers ignoring code. They push and push an whine and whine. So many developers don't care about planning for a good community.

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