The overhaul of our local zoning code should result in a code that's simple, understandable, and enforceable. Much has changed since the 1950's since the last update. For example, efforts to create the first Bearden Mixed Use Plan resulted in an overly complicated and unworkable multi-page document. The revised plan was a one-page easily understandable one. This experience points the way for the overhaul to resemble the revised Bearden Mixed Use Plan. The updated zoning code should focus on mixed use housing for two large parcels of land in Bearden, Western Plaza and the Homberg Dr. area. There are folks in the neighborhoods around Bearden who are looking to move into smaller housing units after living for decades in large residences, for instance. It's important the process include considerable community support and the analysis of experts to surface the issues that the new zoning code should address, whether they result in mandating sidewalks or building on narrower-than-normal lots.
"Mayor Rogero is dedicated to promoting a vibrant local economy, strong neighborhoods, a high quality of life, a thriving downtown and a greener Knoxville. She believes Knoxville's strength comes from the diversity of its people and the beauty of its natural resources," according to the City's web site. She and the Council have focused on building infrastructure to set the stage for a growing, vibrant economy. The Cumberland streetscape is an excellent example of how a city investment can stimulate economic development. Also, the PILOTs and TIFs used downtown to jumpstart development of long-vacant lots or hard-to-redevelop buildings or to keep Regal Entertainment Group in Knoxville have all been wise investments. Importantly, neighborhoods have been stabilized and others protected, both of which should be continued. And, should I be elected, my primary goal would be to continue the significant growth of the past five years without sacrificing any quality of life here in our City.
I have been serving the community for the past 20 years as executive director of Knox Youth Sports at Lakeshore Park. Some 2,000 children ages 3-14 came through the program each year. The position required supervising a large budget, staff, facilities, and hundreds of volunteers in numerous sports year round. Perhaps most important of all, I had to work with countless parents, as coaches or customers, all with differing ideas about youth sports, which surely is not unlike working with various constituencies in the 2nd District and across the City. The position also required setting a vision for the organization, working with a board of directors, and raising considerable funds each year, all of which is also not unlike working with neighborhood organizations, often with differing ideas, in our various communities.
The basic structure of our code was drafted in the 1960s and its 44 zones are confusing and outdated. By modernizing our zoning code, we can foster growth by building in simplicity, clarity of use, and the stability necessary to encourage investment and strengthen our neighborhoods. Specifically, I want to address mixed-use as an option in higher density areas and use this update to encourage positive development and more walkable and bike friendly spaces. By modernizing our code with interpretability and enforceability in mind we can encourage positive investment. Residential zones including R1 and R1E need to be retained to protect the overall integrity of our neighborhoods. Our homes are typically our single biggest investment and we must preserve the stability these zones offer. The character of our historic neighborhoods designated with an H1 historic overlay and NC1 neighborhood conservation districts must also be preserved to protect the unique and historic nature of Knoxville.
The success we have seen has come from balancing the interests of economic growth while protecting our neighborhoods and quality of life. Over the past 15 years we have seen 51 properties with a beginning assessed value of $50 million transform through private investment to a projected assessed value of a half a billion dollars. Without the city writing a check, this accomplishment continues to drive positive investment today. We need to continue to build upon this progress by utilizing our zoning update and bringing the focus to higher density zones and along our corridors to encourage positive private investment. This is imperative as we can anticipate that our fixed costs will rise at 3 percent annually over the next decade, while our largest source of revenue grows at only about 1 percent. My focus is on growing the economy to met that gap by leveraging our unique position with regional economic partners like Oak Ridge National Lab, UT, and TVA to continue to grow our economy.
As a Knoxville native, through my experiences in community service, public service, and as a small business owner; I have a unique perspective to bring to city council. I am deeply invested in Knoxville, I’m rising my two daughters here and my experience demonstrates my ability to work with others in building a consensus around an issue and implementing a plan for ultimate success. Over the past 5 years, I have served our community as a Knox County Election Commissioner (2015-2017); member of The Salvation Army’s advisory board since 2012 and have served as chairman since 2015; Executive Committee member of the 2014 Knoxville Medal of Honor Convention; member of Sertoma Center Board since 2016, member of Tennessee Veterans Business Association where I founded INVEST a business plan competition for local veterans from 2012-2015; Celebrate Recovery North (2014-2016) volunteer and meal sponsor; Epilepsy Foundation volunteer and bike helmet sponsor at local public schools.