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Hillside Protection Overlay In Use

November 9, 2020 | More News

Planning has been using the recommendations in the Hillside and Ridgetop Protection Plan since it was adopted in 2012. Staff and Planning Commissioners look to the plan for guidance on land disturbance in steep-sloped areas for both rezoning and use-on-review requests as a way to protect property owners from possible impacts related to clearing and grading in steep-sloped areas. In the City of Knoxville, the plan was codified as the Hillside Protection Overlay when the new zoning code went into effect on January 1, 2020. For the first half of 2020, the City’s Plans Review and Inspections department administered the zone overlay, but after reviewing the process, it was determined that it would be more appropriate for Planning staff to manage it.

Under Planning’s administration, the process requires a formal application and fees.

After receiving an application, staff members review it to determine if it qualifies for an Exemption Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) or if it requires a Level I or Level II COA. A Level I COA can be approved by staff, while a Level II COA must be reviewed by the Planning Commission.

Staff recommends that for projects on lots larger than 1-2 acres, applicants contact Planning early in the process to have a slope analysis generated for the property. This lets the applicant know how much land can be disturbed, which can inform their site plan. If an applicant’s plan requires disturbing more area than is recommended by the overlay, they will need to show how the development will lessen the impacts of disturbance.

While certain components of this process are new, it is a formalization of what has been done for the last several years. For more details, you can review the Hillside Protection Overlay checklist and process flowchart.