Consultants engaged to help rewrite the city of Knoxville’s zoning ordinance expect to have the first draft ready for public comment in March.

Arista Strungys, principal in Chicago-based Camiros Ltd., and Chris Jennette, a senior associate at the firm, in September presented the technical report they created to guide the drafting of the ordinance at public meetings at the Knoxville Chamber and other sites.

Strungys is recommending that the new ordinance include more charts and graphics to be user-friendly; adopt a “generic use” model rather than identifying specific uses allowed in zoning districts (shoe store, clothing store, record store, hardware store would be combined in a “retail goods establishment” category); and replace “use on review’ with the more common special-use approach that would only require Metropolitan Planning Commission approval if the variation was relatively minor.

The consultants found that development within Knoxville – particularly its residential areas – is not consistent with the current zoning code. The new ordinance, according to Strungys, will reflect the existing character of neighborhoods, particularly as it relates to lot size.

The effort’s aim is to simplify and clarify the zoning ordinance, but the technical report also reveals interest in new mandates for property developers and owners.

For example, the report also recommends design standards for multi-family, commercial and mixed-use developments. Those standards could regulate facades, building size and shape, where windows and doors are located, public entrance design and location, as well as building materials.

Although extensive landscaping requirements were included in the city’s new parking ordinance, additional requirements could also be included in the zoning ordinance, including the requirement that certain trees be preserved.

Several public meetings will be held when the first draft of the ordinance is released in March. Planners expect several drafts to follow, with completion eyed for October 2018.

Comments about the technical report can be made through the website.