Historic Zoning Commission

Old North Knoxville H: Level IV

10-F-22-HZ

Staff Recommendation

Staff recommends denial of Certificate 10-F-22-HZ.


Applicant Request

Other: Demolition

Demolition of primary structure and associated secondary structures. Main structure has been determined to be an "unfit dwelling by the Public Officer and has been placarded as unfit for human habitation" due to deferred maintenance and multiple violations of the 2018 International Property Maintenance Code. Demolition is requested by City of Knoxville Neighborhood Codes Enforcement following a 120-day repair/demolition order at the 9/30/2022 Public Officer Hearing.


Site Info

Queen Anne, c.1910

Two-story frame residence with a side-gable roof clad in asphalt shingles, an exterior of vinyl siding, and a brick foundation. Enclosed porch extends the full length of the façade. Multiple secondary entries.


1. 217 E. Scott Ave is listed as a contributing resource the ONK local historic overlay, with a designation dating to 1981, and to the ONK National Register Historic District, with a determination made in 1992.

2. The original form of the house is obscured by multiple additions to the front, side, and rear elevations. The house also features multiple secondary entrances to provide access to interior apartments, an exterior of vinyl siding, non-historic replacement windows, and an enclosed front porch which would not meet adopted design guidelines.

3. The City of Knoxville has determined that the structure is a hazard to public health and safety, reflected in the Public Officer's determination of the house as an unfit dwelling. Basic visual assessment of the building's exterior shows missing fascia, exposed roof elements, cracked and open foundation elements, and vegetation leading to moisture issues on the foundation and siding.

4. The existing house is large in footprint, compatible in scale with the high-style, larger Queen Anne examples on E. Scott and E. Oklahoma Avenues. A new house constructed on the lot would need to adhere to ONK guidelines for contextual height, scale, and massing, and may require variances from the base zoning to remain compatible with the neighborhood context.

5. Demolition of the house will not ensure resolution of all issues associated with the Public Officer determination (unpaid City taxes, owner not residing on the property, etc). If a COA is granted by the HZC and a demolition permit is secured for the house, the lot could remain vacant and potentially blighted for an undetermined amount of time.

6. Public input is not involved in the process of requesting or issuing demolition permits. Other than the Public Officer Hearing, the Historic Zoning Commission is the primary avenue for public/neighborhood input in the demolition of a historic house which once contributed to the neighborhood's overall integrity.

7. The 120-day repair or demolition order was issued on 9/30/22 and expired on 2/17/2023. The Building Official has cited the City zoning code Article 1.3.E noting that "public safety will take precedence" [...] "over the provisions of this Code" (including Article 16.8.A.1 which requires HZC approval of demolition in an H overlay district). The City code (Sec. 6-144) defines the structure as an "unfit dwelling," which "creates a serious hazard to the health and safety of the occupants or the public."

8. The proposed demolition is a unique situation where the City is initiating the demolition, noting the inevitability of the Public Officer's legal order and the Building Official's capacity to supersede HZC approval or denial. In this instance, the HZC's approval or denial of the demolition will not alter the City's determination of the house as an "unfit dwelling" requiring immediate repair or demolition, nor the property owner's lack of action on the structure. Therefore, the purview of the HZC in this situation is limited.

9. At the February 16, 2023 HZC meeting, the Commission postponed reviewing demolition of the house an additional 30 days to allow the property owner time to list and sell the property. The house was listed on 3/3/2023. As of 3/7/2023, the house is under contract with multiple back-up offers (per correspondence with listing agent). Staff have spoken with multiple interested buyers and neighborhood liaisons from ONK and Fourth and Gill have visited the property.

10. The original core of the house is intact and could be restored.

11. Should a new buyer demonstrate interest in demolishing the house and reconstructing a new primary structure on the lot, they could submit a new application with additional information to the HZC, including a structural engineer's report and a contractor's write-up for rehabilitation.

Applicant

Scott Elder City of Knoxville


Planning Staff
Lindsay Crockett
Phone: 865-215-3795
Email: lindsay.crockett@knoxplanning.org
Location Knoxville
217 E. Scott Ave. 37917

Owner
Sean Eric Imfeld