The Knoxville City Council will vote Jan. 23 on the missing middle housing plan that could bring more housing to a city facing a housing crunch.
Amid rising prices, not enough affordable housing, a growing population and challenging interest rates, these proposed changes would make it easier to build nontraditional homes that take up less space.
The plan could add thousands of new homes, as 2,039 empty lots would be eligible for missing middle housing under this plan. These multi-unit homes — like townhomes, duplexes and triplexes — would fit in the footprint of a single-family home and be built in certain city neighborhoods.
Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon unveiled her plan in August.
The council can edit this plan, and it would require a second vote.
Where Knoxville’s missing middle housing would be built
Kincannon’s plan creates a new zoning structure in Knoxville’s Traditional Residential Zones, about 25% of the city. These zones include historic neighborhoods such as Mechanicsville, Fourth and Gill, and Parkridge.
If a developer wants to build missing middle housing in those areas, these new codes would allow for more homes to be built per lot.
Developers also would be required to provide fewer parking spaces, only 0.7 parking spaces per unit or none at all if the homes are within a quarter-mile of a public transit line.
If the council approves and only makes small changes, such as tweaking parking space minimums, the plan could move forward to the second vote, Knoxville Chief Policy Officer Cheryl Ball told Knox News.
The plan would have to be sent back to the Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission for further review if there’s a major edit, such as expanding the code beyond just Traditional Residential Zones.
If the council approves the plan, it will vote on it again Feb. 6, Knoxville City Recorder Will Johnson said. If it’s voted down, there won’t be a second reading and the plan would fail.
Why Knoxville proposed housing code changes
After Kincannon unveiled her plan, the city held three public input sessions to inform the community and hear concerns.
The Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission decided that wasn’t enough time for the public to learn about the plan, and in October it delayed approving the plan by 60 days.
During that time, the city held dozens of public meetings, from open houses to one-on-one meetings with developers and neighborhood leaders, and made three major changes to the plan:
- Allowing duplexes to also be built in RN-1 zones.
- Reducing parking space minimums for within a quarter-mile of a public transit line.
- Reducing lot width minimums for fourplexes.
Students at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville School of Architecture showed off some creative designs for missing middle housing at a public event in December, showing Knoxville what this type of housing could look like.
The planning commission approved the mayor’s plan in December, making a few edits that further reduced parking minimums and increased setback variances, allowing buildings to be built closer to their property lines.
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