Knoxville and Knox County have rich cultural resources worthy of historic preservation. In recognition of the need to preserve these resources the Knoxville Historic Zoning Commission was formed in 1971 and the Knox County Historic Zoning Commission in 1973. These organizations function in conformity with federal and state legislation.

The Knoxville Historic Zoning Commission has been designated as a certified local government as mandated by national legislation and administered by the Tennessee Historical Commission and the National Park Service. The Metropolitan Planning Commission staff serve as staff for the historic zoning commissions.

The historic zoning commissions are responsible for reviewing National Register nominations within their geographic areas. They may apply for survey and planning funding to carry out approved activities. In 1982, funds were secured to conduct a historical and architectural survey of Knoxville and Knox County and to develop an inventory. This project was originally initiated by Knoxville Heritage, Inc., a private preservation organization, and was assumed by the historic zoning commissions in 1982. The survey, which recorded all properties built prior to 1935 in Knox County, was completed in 1986, and recently updated.

The National Register of Historic Places is a compilation of properties significant to the local, regional or national history of the United States. A number of city and county properties have been designated as historic places; the number of listings in Knoxville and Knox County has been expanded recently with additional nominations prepared by Metropolitan Planning Commission staff. Listing on the National Register ensures that the property will be considered in any environmental reviews conducted for federally funded projects as mandated by the Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1972. Historic structures and places are not protected against alteration or demolition by privately funded projects; protection and review is assured for National Register properties only when federal funding is involved. In addition, if owners restore or preserve their property in conformance with guidelines, they receive a tax credit for a percentage of the cost if the property is income-producing.

To further protect structures and areas of historical significance the Knoxville and Knox County Historic Zoning Commissions have developed a register of locally protected historic structures and places. Designated properties are protected through an overlay which appears on the county's zoning maps, and which regulates appearance but does not regulate use. Designated properties are safeguarded by provisions appearing in design guidelines that are adopted at the time of their designation.

The Knoxville and Knox County Historic Zoning Commissions have also prepared a preservation plan for Knoxville and Knox County. This plan, originally adopted in 1986, was updated in 1995.

The historic zoning commission may review requests for historic designation submitted by individuals, organizations and governmental bodies and make recommendations, which are accompanied by reviews of the Metropolitan Planning Commission. The recommendations are then forwarded to the City Council or Board of County Commissioners, as appropriate.

Zoning. H-1 (City) and HZ (County) historic overlay districts have been adopted as part of the zoning ordinance by the city and the zoning resolution by the county. Properties within designated historic zones or districts must undergo procedures additional to those prescribed for other zoning districts.

Enforcement. The historic zoning commissions review applications for building permits for purposes of regulating the construction, repair, alteration, rehabilitation, relocation, or demolition of any building or structure located or proposed to be located within a historic overlay zone. Remodeling or rebuilding of any structure may be permitted provided that the proposed plans are consistent with the design guidelines and the historic and architectural character of the designated historic overlay zone. Building permits may not be issued within an historic overlay zone without a Certificate of Appropriateness issued by the appropriate historic zoning commission. The Certificate of Appropriateness is issued based on the historical and architectural value of the designated building, object or structure, the relationship of its exterior architectural features to the other buildings in the district, the compatibility of the exterior design, arrangement and materials to be used, and any factor, including aesthetic, that is justified by the historic character of the district and outlined in the design guidelines in force at the time the building or area was designated. Decisions of the Historic Zoning Commissions may be appealed to the courts.

Properties within the city also may be designated as Neighborhood Conservation Overlay (NC-1) districts. This overlay zone recognizes properties that draw their primary significance from their setting as well as architecture, and are grouped in an area at least 10 acres in size. Design guidelines also are adopted when NC-1 overlays are designated, and govern primarily the demolition of buildings or portions of buildings and the construction of new buildings or additions to existing buildings.

Annual Report on Preservation
Under a measure adopted by city ordinance, the Knoxville Historic Zoning Commission is required to present an annual Report on Preservation to the City Mayor, which in turn is presented to the Knoxville City Council. This report serves as a yearly update to the city portion of the preservation plan.


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