Metropolitan Planning Commission to create “Family” Task Force

KNOXVILLE –The Metropolitan Planning Commission has announced their intent to form a task force aimed specifically at studying the definition of family for zoning purposes. The current proposal would limit the number of unrelated adults allowed to live in a single family dwelling to two. The adults must be related by either blood, marriage, or adoption when occupied by three or more adults if the area is zoned for single family dwellings.

This issue arose out of complaints by South Knoxville residents regarding homes in the area that were rented by a number of Univerisity of Tennessee students. Neighbors complained of noise, excessive traffic, and general neighborhood disruption. Residents cite fears of deteriorating conditions in their area that could lead to devaluation of their properties.

While denying accusations of racism, there are also complaints coming from the vocal homeowners regarding rented homes housing migrant workers, often in high numbers per square foot of living space. This high density occupation of rental units is seen as leading to increased traffic and other less-than-desirable consequences.

Drawing from the 1974 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Village of Belle Terre v. Boraas case in which a similar ordinance was upheld as constitutional, they now seek to have a similar ordinance passed for both the City of Knoxville and Knox County.

The Greater Knoxville LGBTQ Leadership Council’s Public Policy Committee spokesperson, Robbie Arrington, has regularly attended meetings in recent days along with providing the Leadership Council with a presence at Knoxville City Council meetings as well.

“I have word that the Metropolitan Planning Commission plans to assign a task force to help come up with an answer on how to deal with this issue in Knoxville and Knox County,” states Arrington. “I will volunteer my time to represent the LGBT community on that task force.”

Arrington is well known to many LGBT Knoxvillians due to her prior service to our community as the past President of Knoxville Cares, his presence on the Red and Green, in addition to his advocacy work on behalf of Joe Camber, Arrington’s immediate predecessor as President of Knoxville Cares. Arrington took up the mantle to head up Knoxville Cares after Camber fell victim to a homicide. Arrington is also an active member of the Tennessee Equality Project.

The next meeting of the Metropolitan Planning Commission is scheduled for Thursday, April 13th in the Main Assembly Room at the City-County Building downtown. Item number 5 is listed on their preagenda as follows:

Amendment to the Knox County Zoning Ordinance, Article 2, Definitions, Section 2.20, and City of Knoxville Zoning Ordinance, Article 2, Definitions, to amend the definition of "family".

See the Metropolitan Planning Commission’s Web site for updates. You will find them online at

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