Will Recode cause a commercial class action de-annexation lawsuit?

By Focus Staff

So far most reporting on Recode has been about residential issues and concerns. How will Recode affect commercial businesses in Knoxville? Recode simply will put some businesses out of business. Take for example the case of John Marshall. In 1992 Marshall’s business was annexed by the City of Knoxville. A contract was signed promising city services such as water, gas, fire protection and sewer. It took many years for street lights and city water. It took ten years to get natural gas. There was a fire in one of his buildings in June of 2017.

The fire hydrants could not supply enough water, and the fire department had to run lines from Dry Gap Pike. To his knowledge no change has been made to the water lines servicing the hydrants. After 27 years, his business is still on a septic systems. Marshall has paid his city property taxes every year without interruption yet he has not received the services the city contracted that they would provide.

When the Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission mailed Marshall the so-called public notice on Recode he immediately called the City of Knoxville. He was referred to the planning commission who then referred him back to the city. Marshall explained that Recode would zone him out of business. Recode would change his zoning from C-6 to I-MU which prohibits used car lots. The city told him he could get a letter from the city grandfathering him on his zoning. The problem with this is to own a used car lot you have to have a state license. That license requires you operate your business in a zone that allows that business. The new Recode I-MU zoning does not allow his business.

The situation is much worse than that. Marshall asked what would happen if he sold his property—would the grandfather letter be transferred to the new owner? The city could not provide an answer. After 27 years of faithfully paying city property taxes Marshall is being deprived of his property rights and property value.

Marshall has contacted the mayor of Knoxville and has respectfully asked to be de-annexed. A single business or person cannot request de-annexation. This problem opens the city up to federal lawsuits for restraint of trade and a class action for other businesses to join a de-annexation lawsuit. How is it in Draft 5 of Recode that these concerns have not been considered? Why on earth would Recode put tax-paying businesses out of business?

On the Sunday, May 5th episode of WATE’s Tennessee This Week Mayor Madeline Rogero was interviewed by Blake Stevens of WATE. Stevens asked the mayor about Recode and her response was that Recode would be a living document just like the current zoning has been. That it would be updated every year like the zoning has been for the last fifty years. Doesn’t Mr. Marshall deserve more than that? How can the city fix losing a state license? It is clear that Recode is not ready to be voted on.

 

The Recode special called city council meeting is Tuesday, May 14 at 3 p.m. at the City-County’s Building’s Main Assembly Room.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login