Zoning is a term applied to local regulations that prescribes how land may be used or developed; the permitted uses of land and buildings within zones or districts, the height and bulk of structures, size and location of open spaces, and the intensity with which land may be developed. Zoning also regulates signs, off-street parking, and restricts the extent to which industry and commerce may affect the environment. Zoning regulations do not involve construction details. These are specified in city and county building codes.

Local governments adopt zoning regulations as a part of their police powers in the interest of promoting and protecting the health, welfare, and safety of the community. The regulations must be reasonable, not discriminatory nor designed for purposes of segregation by race, class, or economic status.

The Development Services Division prepares specific zoning ordinances for the city of Knoxville and Knox County government. These zoning regulations consist of the text of requirements for each zoning district and a map showing the location of each district. The Zoning Ordinance for Knoxville, TN specifies 30 types of land use districts, and the Zoning Resolution for Knox County specifies 18 districts.


The Knox County Zoning Resolution and the Knoxville Zoning Ordinance may be amended by application to the Metropolitan Planning Commission by the property owner or representative. If the rezoning request involves an amendment to the One Year Plan, the legal guide for city zoning decisions, the applicant must also submit a proposed plan amendment. To receive consideration, an amendment must:

  • be necessary due to changed conditions
  • be consistent with the zoning ordinance
  • not adversely affect other areas, and
  • be consistent with city and county road, land use and facilities plans

Applying for a Rezoning

If you are the owner or option holder of a piece of property and wish to petition for rezoning, you begin the process by submitting an application and filing fee to MPC. MPC offices are located on the fourth floor of the City County Building, Suite 403.

To complete the application you need to know:

  • The map and parcel number of the property as listed with the Knox County Property Assessor's Office
  • The existing land use and proposed use for the property
  • The existing zoning classification and requested zoning change

The MPC staff will assist you in completing the form. Your application must be submitted 32 days prior to the MPC monthly hearing. You may extend the deadline by two weeks by paying double the regular filing fee.

If your rezoning request is in the City of Knoxville, you may be required to request an amendment to the One Year Plan. Before filing your rezoning application, MPC staff will help you determine if this is necessary. An additional fee is charged for a plan amendment.

Prior to consideration of a rezoning request by the Metropolitan Planning Commission, a notice is published in a newspaper of general circulation, and a sign is posted on the property. MPC recommendations are submitted to the appropriate local legislative body, either the City Council or County Commission, for decision.

When the matter comes before the legislative body, notices are again published and another public hearing is held. Property owners, and other concerned citizens may voice their support or opposition to the MPC recommendation. The Knoxville City Council or Knox County Commission may sustain or overrule the recommendation of the Planning Commission.


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