Zoning Atlas demonstrates strict zoning regulations

Cookeville – Recently, the Beacon Center released the first part of the Tennessee Zoning Atlas, an interactive resource demonstrating how strict local zoning regulations exclude low-and middle-income residents and worsen the Nashville area’s housing shortage.

“Tennesseans, whether renting an apartment or trying to buy their first house, are dealing with record rising home costs, particularly in Middle Tennessee,” said Beacon Policy Director Ron Shultis. “And while most point to record growth and people moving into our community to explain higher costs, one cause has escaped criticism: zoning. Through lines drawn on a map, local governments arbitrarily limit the supply of housing, especially more affordable options like accessory dwelling units (such as in-law suites), duplexes and multi-family housing.”

The Beacon Center says the zoning Atlas highlights the need for local governments to reduce or eliminate burdensome and arbitrary restrictions on housing supply.

“This is the first such look at zoning in the Middle Tennessee area, and the project will likely be expanded in the future to examine zoning laws in other parts of the state,” said the Beacon Center in a release.

You can explore the full interactive map here and read a summary of the report here.

According to the report, affordable housing options are “severely limited” in Middle Tennessee. Duplexes are banned in 59% of land and multifamily housing options (such as apartments) are banned on nearly 94% of land. Local governments also allow property owners to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs), such as mother-in-law suites, on 57.8% of land in Middle Tennessee.

According to the report, ADUs can be rented to non-family members on only 34% of that land which limits the more affordable housing option.

“Both state and local policymakers should enact pro-housing reforms to make Tennessee cities a more welcoming and affordable place for low and middle-income residents,” Shultis continued. “By passing pro-housing reforms such as reducing the restrictions on ADUs and allowing more mixed-use and multi-family development, policymakers can increase the supply of homes and drive down costs.”

Image by Freepik.

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