Annexation Policy

Redevelopment Director

Dawn Michelle Foster
(865) 215-2607

400 Main St., Room 655
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Rick Emmett
Downtown Coordinator
Room 470B, City County Building
Fax: 865-215-2320

Underlying Values

The city of Knoxville places a top priority for growth and economic development within its present city limits through redevelopment of existing parcels. This strategy makes use of existing infrastructure that will support quality growth through greater use of infill, rehab, and mixed-use development within the existing city limits. However, because it is essential that any city must be in a position to expand its borders to include urbanizing areas in unincorporated areas on its edge, the city of Knoxville will supplement its primary growth strategy through a secondary policy of external growth through annexation of urbanized and urbanizing areas as envisioned by the Tennessee Growth Policy Act.

Among the purposes of the growth policy legislation was that of reigning in overly aggressive annexations while allowing local governments to "more closely match the timing of development to the provision of public services." The intent of the act was clearly to make annexation more rational and predictable by identifying areas of likely expansion for the city.

Pursuant to this act, the city and the county agreed on the urban growth boundary. The areas included within this boundary are in close proximity to the city already urban in character, or likely to become urban in character. These areas are those jointly deemed to be appropriate for eventual annexation by the city in order to insure orderly growth. The city, through its plan of services, is in a position to provide the additional services the city has the capacity to offer and which are necessary in a more urbanized area, for the protection both of the annexed parcel and of the citizens of the city.

Thus the City of Knoxville must preserve its annexation prerogatives within the urban growth boundaries. On the other hand the City has no interest in pursuing annexations in the urban growth boundary if such annexations are not at that time necessary to insure orderly growth. While the fact of inclusion within the urban growth zone provides fair notice to anyone owning or contemplating purchase of property that annexation is a real possibility, it is appropriate and desirable that the annexation be rational, predictable, and reasonable.

While rationality and predictability can be specified with some precision, reasonableness is, to some degree in the eye of the beholder. Any calculation of any proposed annexation's reasonableness, however, must include recognition that most citizens in the urban growth boundary, and many beyond that boundary, enjoy the economic and cultural benefits of living in a metropolitan area. It is thus reasonable that they bear their fair share of the costs of maintaining and enhancing the urban area and providing for its orderly growth within the guidelines established under state law. 


The City of Knoxville will abide by the following principles in pursing annexation.

Many people request to be brought into the city. Moreover, as a municipal corporation the city will seek to convince others in areas where it is appropriate that it is in their interest to join the city. The city will pursue voluntary annexations when such annexations are consistent with the interest of city residents.

Indicators of Urbanization or Impending Urbanization
The city will pursue annexations in those areas proximate to the city that are either developed or ready for development in the near future. Among the indicators of likely development are sewer service, development on or immediately proximate to the parcel, and platting of land for development. Conversely, those living in areas without indicators of impending urbanization can anticipate not being the subject of annexation efforts.

Guidance and Predictability

Voluntary requests by individual property owners or by referendum of property owners in a specified area in both the urban growth boundary and the planned growth areas for annexation will be encouraged and recommended for approval if the annexation would have a positive impact on the health, safety and welfare of the applicant and city residents.

Within the urban growth boundary -

The city will annex parcels contiguous to an existing continuous city boundary if such parcels are developed or likely to develop in the near future.


The city will annex parcels at least 50% surrounded by existing parcels presently in the city if such parcels are developed or likely to develop in the near future.


In all cases the city will take aggressive action to inform property owners of any pending annexation action or opportunities and to discuss the rationale for, and the impact of this potential annexation on both the city and the affected property. The city administration will provide an opportunity for the property owner to ask for reconsideration of the annexation or of the timing or other terms associated with the annexation The property owner must contact the City's Department of Policy and Communications within ten days after receiving notice of the intent to annex to schedule a meeting to present the case for reconsideration. The administration will consider this request for reconsideration prior to presentation to council for final action.