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Understanding the Numbers for Use on Review Appeals

TL;DR: In the last 14 years, the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals has heard sixteen Use on Review appeals. Of those cases, the BZA reached a final resolution for all but five.

How Many Appeals Have There Been?

With the assistance of KCPA volunteers and county staff, KCPA has compiled a list of Knox County Use on Reviews items appealed to the county BZA since 2008.

Some elected officials and staff have claimed that there have been 19 appeals of Use on Review decisions; in that number they count two (2) that were withdrawn by the development applicant before hearing date, and one that was an appeal of a county building officials decision.

The true number of Use on Review appeals that the Board of Zoning Appeals has heard since 2008 is sixteen (16). These three items were either withdrawn or are incorrectly coded as a Use on Review appeal on the agenda. Some elected officials and staff continue to count these three items and use a total of 19 appeals, which is flawed analysis of the information.



Case File

Appealed By






Planning Applicant

Appeal denial of use on review for telco tower

Withdrawn prior to hearing


Knoxville Stone


Planning Applicant

Appeal denial of use on review for mining and quarry

Withdrawn prior to hearing


Ancient Lore Village



Appeal of building officials decision that was incorrectly coded as appeal of use on review

Heard as appeal of a building officials decision

Has BZA Only Overturned Planning Commission Once or Twice in the last 15 Years?

Officials and staff have made statements that only one or two Use on Review appeals have been overturned by BZA in the last 15 years. That is technically correct, but misleading. This misleading number has been used as rationale to claim that hearing appeals first at the BZA is unnecessary - that BZA usually just upholds the Planning Commission. That is an incorrect and flawed conclusion, not supported by data or experience.

For the appeal of a Use on Review matter, the Board of Zoning Appeals has three options set out in Zoning Ordinance 6.50.07:

  1. Affirm the action of the Planning Commision

  2. Modify or impose restrictions as provided by article 6, "Administration, enforcement and interpretation," subsection 6.50.03, "Restrictions", or

  3. Overrule the action of the planning commission

Since 2008, the BZA has affirmed the Planning Commission eight times (8, or 50%), modified or imposed restrictions five times, overruled twice (2), and ruled the applicant didn’t have standing once (1). This is the full picture supported by the agendas and minutes, and is a much different story than claiming the

BZA has only overturned Planning Commission once or twice and is therefore slowing things down by a few months.

What’s the Actual Results of Use on Review Appeals?

Full results require looking at the BZA action and then any follow-on decisions if appealed further to court.

BZA Action was Final

Court Affirmed on Appeal

Court Overruled on Appeal

Court Appeal Pending

BZA Affirmed Planning Commission



BZA Modified Planning Commission



BZA Overturned Planning Commission



BZA Ruled Applicants Did Not Have Standing







Grand Total


BZA has achieved a final resolution for 11 of the 16 Use on Review Appeals, providing a much quicker resolution than the 5 cases that have proceeded to court.

A simplified version of the final results of Planning Commission Use on Review decisions since 2008 after they were appealed to BZA and potentially subsequently to court:


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