Earlier this month, the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted on first reading to approve a conservation overlay ordinance. The ordinance is slated to go before the BMA on second and final reading next month.
Sharyl Carter, a planner with the city, said the ordinance allows Kingsport to create a district with appearance guidelines that the homes and buildings must adhere to.
"Each district can be individual - one that is interested in only having brick structures where (new buildings) have to match that brick style," Carter said. "It could include guidelines for front-facing porches, houses all have the same setback or approximate size. That's what the overlay addresses.
"If you're going to do a big addition to your home, you're going to have to have something that is in line with what's already going on in the neighborhood."
The idea to create a conservation overlay district came out of the radial streets study that looked at what was going on in the neighborhood, Carter said. The first neighborhood to use the new ordinance will be the radial streets area, from Sullivan Street to Park Street and from Canal Street to Tennessee Street.
Carter said people were coming in, cutting up houses, building in any fashion, and not giving a care what their neighbor thought - all of which was bringing down property values all around the houses.
"(The radial streets neighborhood) really wanted to have some regulations regarding new construction, particularly in the neighborhood area. You had the competing pressure of the hospital and its expansion and the churches and their expansion," Carter said. "After many discussions and doing the radial streets report, we figured out the best thing to do would be an overlay. That way we could have it over small areas, and they could define exactly what it is that they wanted to have or not have."
For an overlay district to be implemented in a neighborhood, the guidelines must first be agreed upon by the residents. The matter then goes before the Kingsport Regional Planning Commission, which would vote on rezoning the neighborhood to the new district.
Carter said city planners would be responsible for making sure the overlay requirements are met when new homes come into the neighborhood or when work on existing homes is performed. Violators could be cited into court, Carter said.
"The ordinance is not specific to radial streets. It's an overlay ordinance we could use anywhere in the city," Carter said. "It's a way to protect what residential areas do exist in the area."