April 11, 2011 - City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed city redistricting plan at 5 p.m., Tuesday, April 19, in the City County Building's Large Assembly Room.
The City of Knoxville has to redistrict every ten years following the completion of the United States Census due to the city's population growth as well as changes in the distribution of that population throughout the city.
Knoxville has six Council districts that by law must each contain roughly the same number of residents. Because Knoxville's population growth and movement isn't uniform the districts have to be reworked somewhat so the numbers even out.
The city has 178,874 residents according to the 2010 Census, meaning the ideal population for each district should be 29,812 residents. The revised districts cannot deviate more than 5 percent above or below that number.
Rick Emmett, the city's urban growth manager who developed the redistricting plan with support from the Metropolitan Planning Commission staff, tried to make the minimum changes necessary to adjust the district boundaries so that each has about the same number of residents.
"Fortunately we didn't have to make too many changes," said Rick Emmett, the city's urban growth manager. "We try to keep neighborhoods together and try not to split precincts if possible, though that does happen. I hope this plan will be acceptable to most people."
The proposed redistricting plan will move a little more than 11,000 residents into new Council districts, though nearly all of them will still vote at the same polling places they did before.
Most of the residents who are being moved to a new district live in two districts, the Third District, represented by Councilwoman Brenda Palmer and the Fifth District, represented by Councilman Charles Thomas. Those districts cover part of north and all of northwest Knoxville.
"The biggest population gain was in the third district, so they had to lose some people and the rest of it is really geography," Emmett said. "The Fifth is essentially in the middle of the city so any shifts will generally have an impact on it."
A small section of First District on the University of Tennessee campus, represented by Councilman Nick Pavlis, was also moved as was a section in the Sixth District, represented by Knoxville Mayor Daniel Brown, who is also the Councilman representing the Sixth District.
The biggest shifts included moving the neighborhoods in the Edgewood Avenue, Fairmont Boulevard and Whittle Springs Road area from the Fifth District to the Fourth District. That also makes Broadway the boundary between those districts.
The Third District neighborhoods bounded by Clinton Highway, Pleasant Ridge Road, Merchant Drive and Wilson Road move to the Fifth District and part of the Beaumont neighborhood will move from the Fifth District to the Sixth.
If City Council approves the plan later this spring the new districts would be in place for the city elections in September.