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as adopted by the City of Knoxville, Knox County, and the Town of Farragut.

Recommended Growth Plan
Other Recommendations Maps


Adopted by the Growth Policy Coordinating Committee, January 12, 2001

The following text is taken from the report:
Knoxville, Farragut, Knox County Growth Policy Plan: Recommendations of the Growth Policy Coordinating Committee to the Knoxville City Council, Farragut Board of Aldermen, and Knox County Board of Commissioners.
The material presented here represents only that portion of the report covering the adopted Recommendations. The entire report, which also includes Land Capability Analysis, Development Trends and Projections, Adopted Plans, and Cost of Service Provision Analyses, can be obtained from the Metropolitan Planning Commission.


Public Chapter 1101, the new Tennessee growth management law, requires city and county governments to prepare a 20 year Growth Plan for each county. At a minimum, a growth plan must identify three classifications of land:

• Rural areas. Rural areas are to include land to be preserved for farming, recreation, and other non-urban uses.

• Urban growth boundaries (UGB’s). UGB’s must be drawn for all cities and towns. The land within the UGB must be reasonably compact but adequate to accommodate all of the city’s expected growth for the next 20 years.

• Planned growth areas (PGA’s). PGA’s must be reasonably compact but large enough to accommodate growth expected to occuring unincorporated areas over the next 20 years.

The Knox County Growth Policy Coordinating Committee has been formed pursuant to the new law. The law encourages cities and counties to cooperate in preparation of the plan, and directs the Coordinating Committee to give due consideration to any proposals submitted in a timely manner by the local governments. The Committee has prepared a plan and recommends its adoption by the governing bodies of Knoxville, Knox County and Farragut. Several public meetings and hearings were held to obtain the views of citizens. The recommended plan represents the best efforts of the coordinating committee to prepare a plan that meets the requirements of the law, responds constructively to the proposals submitted by Knox County, Knoxville, Farragut and Oak Ridge, and embodies the input of citizens.


Section 1

Recommended Growth Plan

The Knox County Growth Policy Coordinating Committee worked for over a year to develop a plan that complies with Public Chapter 1101, Tennessee's annexation and growth management law. This plan, which the Coordinating Committee has recommended for adoption by the governing bodies of Knox County, Knoxville and Farragut, is the result of careful consideration of proposals put forward by the three local governments, citizens, community groups and business people. The plan is based on the requirements of Public Chapter 1101; a thorough analysis of existing conditions and trends in land use, population and the natural environment; and input by citizens and detailed testimony by a wide variety of governmental service providers, including city and county departments, utility districts, emergency services and the school board.

This section contains the policy recommendations of the coordinating committee, presented in written and graphic form. The remaining sections of the document provide background information used to develop the plan.


The following goals have been adapted from TN Public Chapter 1101:

• In conjunction with the comprehensive plans of Knoxville, Knox County and Farragut, provide a unified physical design for the development of the local community;

• Encourage a pattern of compact and contiguous development to be guided into urban areas and planned growth areas;

• Establish an acceptable and consistent level of public services and community facilities and ensure timely provision of those services and facilities;

• Promote the adequate provision of employment opportunities and the economic health of the region;

• Conserve features of significant statewide or regional architectural, cultural, historical, or archaeological interest;

• Protect life and property from the effects of natural hazards, such as flooding;

• Take into consideration such other matters that may be logically related to or form an integral part of a plan for the coordinated, efficient and orderly development of the local community; and

• Provide for a variety of housing choices and assure affordable housing for future population growth.


1. The Rural, Planned Growth, and Urban Growth Boundary designations of this plan shall not impair the rights of a landowner to lawfully use property in accordance the provisions of the Zoning Ordinances of Knoxville, Knox County and Farragut.

2. Rezoning decisions shall be consistent with the Growth Plan Map and policies.

3. The following policies shall apply in the Rural Area:

3.1 The Knox County Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map shall determine land uses permitted in the Rural Area. The rural designation shall not impede the right of a property owner to use or develop the property for a purpose permitted by that property's zoning. A land use listed in the Zoning Ordinance as a "use on review" may be approved by the Planning Commission if they find that the proposed development complies with all applicable standards in ordinance.

3.2 Rezoning within the Rural Area shall be limited to the following zoning districts: Agricultural (A), Estate (E), Open Space (OS), Floodway (F), Planned Residential (PR at densities up to two (2) dwelling units per acre based on the site's environmental characteristics and Health Department determination of septic system capability (with exceptions noted in #3.3 & #3.5 below), Transition (T), Historic Overlay (H), Planned Commercial (PC), subject to the conditions listed below in #3.4, and Light Industrial (LI) and (I), subject to the conditions listed below in #3.6. By February 1, 2001, MPC shall deliver recommended text of new Planned Business/Industrial Park, Neighborhood Commercial and Rural Community Commercial zoning districts to County Commission for legislative action. Upon the enactment of these zoning district regulations, these new zones shall replace the PC, LI and I zones in the preceding list of zones.

3.3 Rezoning on slopes of 25 percent or more shall be limited to the following zoning districts: Open Space (OS), Estate (E) and Planned Residential (PR) at densities of one (1) dwelling unit per two or more acres. Rezonings on slopes of 15 to 25 percent shall be limited to zoning districts which have a minimum one (1) acre lot size; Agriculture (A), Estate (E), Open Space (OS), and Planned Residential (PR) on lots of one (1) or more acres are appropriate.

3.4 In rural areas, rezoning to Planned Commercial (PC) shall only be approved for commercial uses or services needed to serve rural area residents, such as food markets, convenience stores, gasoline service stations and professional or business offices. A site plan shall be reviewed and approved by the Metropolitan Planning Commission concurrently with any rezoning to Planned Commercial in the Rural Area. Such commercial facilities and rezoning shall be consistent with the Sector Plans adopted by the planning commission.

3.5 Extensions of low density residential development (densities of 1 to 3 dwelling units per acre) into the rural area shall be limited to the following conditions: (a) the property must be zoned Planned Residential (PR); (b) provision of sanitary sewer and public water services; (c) connecting collector and arterial roads from the proposed development to the Urban Growth Boundary or Planned Growth Area which meet the standards of the Knox County Engineering and Public Works Department or its successor; and (d) a traffic impact analysis demonstrating to the satisfaction of the planning commission that the effect of the proposed and similar developments in the traffic analysis zone will not unreasonably impair traffic flow along the arterial roads through the adjacent Planned Growth Area. The intent of this section is to allow extensions of low density residential development into rural areas when urban services (sanitary sewer, water, and adequate roads) become available. These areas should be reclassified "Planned Growth" when the growth plan is periodically revised and amended.

3.6 Land within the Rural area may be rezoned for business parks or industries only under the following conditions:

a.) The rezoning is consistent with the applicable Sector Plan. The Sector Plan may be amended upon recommendation of the Metropolitan Planning Commission in accordance with provisions of state law regarding adoption and amendment of regional plans.

b.) Wetlands, floodways, streams, or hillside lands with pre-development slopes of 16 % or greater, as defined in Section 82-30 of the Knoxville-Knox County Subdivision Regulations shall not be rezoned for industrial or commercial use.

c.) The rezoning application must include deed restrictions which specify permitted land uses and to create design standards for landscaping, architecture, drainage, utilities and transportation access. These restrictions shall be similar to those recorded for East bridge Business Park and in effect as of December 1, 1999. If the rezoning is approved, these deed restrictions, with any changes required by the Planning Commission or County Commission, shall be filed prior to approval of the rezoning by County Commission.

d.) In the event that the Knox County Commission adopts zoning regulations permitting conditional zoning, approval of a conditional rezoning subject to the above referenced standards may substitute for the filing of deed restrictions.

e.) These areas shall be reclassified "Planned Growth" when the growth plan is periodically revised and amended.

4. In Planned Growth Areas, the following policies shall apply:

4.1 The purposes of the Planned Growth Area designation are to encourage a reasonably compact pattern of development, promote expansion of the Knox County economy, offer a wide range of housing choices, and coordinate the actions of the public and private sectors, particularly with regard to provision of adequate roads, utilities, schools, drainage and other public facilities and services.

4.2 Planned Growth Areas may include any land use or development permitted by the Knox County Zoning Ordinance.

4.3 Rezonings in the Planned Growth Area shall be consistent with the applicable Sector Plan adopted by the Metropolitan Planning Commission.

4.4 After receiving a recommendation from the Planning Commission, the County Commission may amend the Sector Plan if it finds that there has been a change in conditions warranting the amendment.

4.5 The purposes of the Planned Growth Area designation are to encourage a reasonably compact pattern of development, promote expansion of the Knox County economy, offer a wide range of housing choices, and coordinate the actions of the public and private sectors, particularly with regard to provision of adequate roads, utilities, schools, drainage and other public facilities and services.

5. In Urban Growth Boundaries, the following policies shall apply:

5.1 The purposes of the Urban Growth Boundary designation are to encourage a reasonably compact pattern of development, promote expansion of the Knoxville-Knox County economy, offer a wide range of housing choices, and coordinate the actions of the public and private sectors, particularly with regard to provision of adequate roads, utilities, schools, drainage and other public facilities and services.

5.2 In Urban Growth Boundaries, any land use permitted in the Zoning Ordinance of the appropriate jurisdiction shall be permitted, subject to all requirements of that jurisdiction. Rezonings in the Urban Growth Boundaries shall be consistent with the applicable Sector Plan adopted by the Metropolitan Planning Commission or the Farragut Land Use Plan, as appropriate or one created hereafter in Knox County under provisions of state law.

6. No municipalities other than Farragut, Knoxville or one created under provisions of state law will be allowed to designate urban growth boundaries in Knox County.

7. Official determinations of the location of the Urban Growth Boundaries, Planned Growth Area boundaries, or Rural Area boundaries shall be made by the chief zoning enforcement officer of Farragut, Knoxville and Knox County, as appropriate, using the following standards:

7.1 Boundaries which appear to follow lot, parcel or property lines on the Official Growth Plan map shall be interpreted to coincide with such lines. If a lot or parcel appears to be split by a boundary, then its classification shall be determined as being the classification which accounts for the largest percentage of area within the lot or parcel. For example, if a parcel is split by the boundary between a rural area and a planned growth area, and the majority of the parcel is in the rural area, then the entire parcel shall be classified as rural.

7.2 Boundaries which appear to follow roads or railroads shall be interpreted to coincide with the right of way lines. When a section of road or railroad right of way abuts an urban growth boundary, that section of right of way shall be designated as being entirely within that urban growth boundary*. A section of right of way abutting both a planned growth area and a rural area shall be designated as being entirely within the planned growth area.

7.3 When an urban growth boundary appears to follow a body of water designated by a solid or intermittent blue line on the most recently published United States Geological Survey (USGS) topographic quadrangle map, then all of that portion of the waterway contiguous to the boundary shall be designated as being entirely within the urban growth boundary.

7.4 When there is uncertainty as to the location of an urban growth boundary then the planning commission with jurisdiction over the boundary creating the uncertainty shall determine the location of the boundary.

Other Recommendations

These recommendations address significant policy issues raised during the Coordinating Committee's yearlong planning process:

1 A standing Growth Policy Coordinating Committee should be in place at all times, so that, if the plan is to be amended, time will not be lost making appointments.

2. The Growth Policy Plan should be periodically reviewed and, if warranted by changed conditions, amended. This review should occur every 3 years, beginning with the third anniversary of the effective date of the Plan.

3. The Knox County Joint Economic and Community Development Board required by Public Chapter 1101 should be utilized to coordinate an economic development strategy that will guide the Knoxville-Farragut-Knox County community in presenting a unified front in the economic development arena.

4. Regulatory obstacles to "smart growth" should be identified and addressed.

4.1 The City of Knoxville's recent adoption of a Traditional Neighborhood Development Ordinance, which allows developers to create compact, pedestrian oriented, mixed-use neighborhoods as an alternative to suburban sprawl, is an example. Other possible regulatory reform initiatives include:

4.2 Incentives to encourage rural cluster development, whereby rural landscape features are preserved by allowing concentration of development on a relatively small part of a rural site. This could be based on a modified form of the existing Open Space (OS) zoning district.

4.3 Reduced parking requirements for developments that are designed to encourage pedestrian, transit, or bicycle transportation.

4.4 A review of zoning ordinances and adopted plans to identify other opportunities to incorporate smart growth principles.

5. One of the most effective approaches for reducing urban sprawl could be to further revitalize the inner city, as proposed in the Heart of Knoxville Empowerment Zone Plan.

6. Environmental resources.

6.1 Local zoning ordinances should be revised to include overlay zones or site plan review provisions that would create and enforce environmentally sound standards for development on hillsides or other steeply sloping lands. Hillside protection ordinances (a) to limit the intensity of new development on hillsides, and (b) to preserve trees and ground cover as part of development processes. These regulations are needed to manage forest resources during development, protect habitat, prevent erosion, preserve aesthetic resources, maintain water quality and avoid flooding.

6.2 Erosion and sediment control regulations should be strictly enforced.

6.3 Water quality issues should be addressed at the watershed level. If a watershed is split by city/county boundaries, intergovernmental agreements should be formulated to ensure a cooperative approach to watershed management. Storm water runoff "best management practices", such as retention of natural vegetation as buffers along streams, should be utilized.

6.4 Greenways have been proposed along many streams and floodways. Consideration should be given to the annual use of a portion of local tax revenue to acquire greenway space and to serve as a match to other funds available for this purpose.

6.5 Springs often form the head waters of many tributaries. They have some of the most pristine water that can be found in Knox County. As such they are occasionally used as well heads and have unique biological habitat. The local governments should identify and map springs and develop standards to protect them, including prohibition of chemical applications and the conservation of natural vegetation within a reasonable distance of springs.

6.6 The Karst terrain of Knox County, created by limestone and dolomite geologic formations, is characterized by sinkholes and caverns. The local governments should continue to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to identify the flood limits around sinkholes. In areas known to be subject to flooding, regulations should be put in place to have a hydrologist or engineer map the potential flood areas so that the habitable portions of buildings can be kept out of harm's way.

6.7 The local governments should work with state and federal biologists to identify where there are critical habitats for endangered species and develop local programs to set aside open space in those areas.

7. Significant wetlands should be mapped and protected through zoning regulations.

8. Regional planning efforts, such as the Regional Transportation Alternatives Committee (RTAC) and Nine Counties, One Vision projects should be encouraged and supported.


E-mail comments or questions to: contact@knoxmpc.org,
call the MPC at 215-2500, or send a fax to 215-2068.

This is not a legal document. It does not replace or amend the existing procedures and regulations governing the publication of agency information. If you have questions, please contact MPC by telephone at (865) 215-2500.