Hidden in the Neighborhood Information drop-down menu on the KP-SHA web site is a map. You’ve probably not noticed it – after all, you’ve already mastered the rare skill of knowing how to get around in our neighborhood. 

Still, it’s a colorful map that shows the whole of the Kingston Pike-Sequoyah Hills area, and you can view it in the default satellite view or, by clicking on the small inset in the lower left, in the street view. There are still more navigational possibilities. You can click on the + option in the lower right to get a closer look, and clicking on the instruction just under the map to see a larger version will produce not only the promised larger image, but a list of what are called Conservation Districts.

Follow THIS LINK to interact with map. 

But what are all these Conservation Districts – the colored sectors into which the neighborhood is divided? If you click on each colored area, up pops a name. Most of the names are a street in each area, such as Talahi or Cherokee or Kingston Pike. And then there are names like Sequoyah Elementary/Library, Council Points, and Manor District.

The story behind this interesting map goes back more than a dozen years or so. At the time, the KP-SHA board’s interest in preserving the character of this unique neighborhood, together with the support of Ann Bennett, a senior planner for the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Zoning Commission, led it to establish a committee to pursue the possibility of taking advantage of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s 1990 Standards for Rehabilitation. A limited version of these standards concerning only new construction and demolition had been adopted by the Knoxville Historic Zoning Commission, although the Secretary of the Interior’s standards also include a broader set of general recommendations. The zoning regulations allow qualifying neighborhoods to apply for a Neighborhood Conservation Overlay or NC-1 zoning status.

This initiative first involved a committee that conducted an intensive inventory of more than a thousand structures in the Kingston Pike-Sequoyah Hills neighborhood. For each structure, this inventory cataloged the date of construction, its architectural style, and other details. On the basis of this information, the neighborhood was divided into districts based on when each area was developed and the architectural similarity of their homes and other structures. These districts were called Conservation Districts because of the name of the zoning category – Neighborhood Conservation Overlay. 

Ventures like this sometimes lead to disagreements among neighbors, but the biggest challenge for this initiative was that it was a lot of work. The idea was that the owners in each prospective district would come together, educate each other on what this Neighborhood Conservation Overlay might mean, and vote in the majority to apply to the city’s Historic Zoning Commission, Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Zoning Commission, and the Knoxville City Council for the NC-1 overlay zoning status. 

Only the Scenic Drive district completed this process and received its NC-1 designation, however, and it took a lot of effort. The Knoxville Historical Zoning Commission’s “Designation Report and Design Guidelines” for the Scenic Drive Conservation District was an impressive document. 

Follow THIS LINK to view the report. 

It described the historical significance of the Scenic Drive District and some of its more notable residents over the years. It also provided photos and architectural descriptions of each property that was designated as a “contributing” structure used by the zoning regulations to establish the character of the district.  

The report also included a summary of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards of Rehabilitation, as well as the less inclusive guidelines used by the Historic Zoning Commission to determine the appropriateness of new construction and demolitions. Many of the alterations owners might wish to make to their homes such as interior alterations, wiring, plumbing, painting, or the addition of artificial siding or roofing do not require a Certificate of Appropriateness. As the report states, “The Guidelines are an attempt to introduce a consistent standard for new construction and demolition; that consistency will allow the fabric of the whole neighborhood to be maintained while enhancing each of the individual buildings included in the District.” 

So, what remains of this initiative some years ago is a Neighborhood Conservation Overlay (NC-1) for the Scenic Drive District, and an interesting map of the other prospective districts.