Clarksville is doing just fine without 45 more acres for business development, local residents told the county Zoning Board last week.
Nearly 80 people turned out Tuesday to tell the board how they thought the western half of the county should be rezoned.
The four-hour hearing concluded public testimony on the county's comprehensive rezoning in the west.
The County Council, sitting asthe Zoning Board, will now take at least several weeks to rule on the requested changes.
Chief among residents' concerns were proposals by the Department of Planning and Zoning that would convert 25 acres of three-acre residential zoning to commercial use and upgrade 13 existing commercial acres.
"I don't see how additional commercial zoning is going to satisfy anybody," said M. Gwen Hackney, a Clarksville resident who said she had no problem doing her shopping in Ellicott City and Columbia.
Residents also argued that the area is going to get plenty of shops when the Rouse Co. builds a village center across Route 108 for its 10th village, River Hill.
Currently, downtown Clarksville, where Routes 108 and 32 meet, is a commercial strip broken up by residential parcels.
Marsha McLaughlin, deputy planningdirector, explained that the Zoning Board has asked county planners to "make some sense" of Clarksville's scattershot zoning.
What resulted was a recommendation that the gaps in commercial areas were filled, leaving a consolidated commercial strip on the western side of Route 108.
"Clarksville is a real problem -- you've got gridlock inthere every afternoon," said Paul Collison of Highland.
Collison acknowledged the evolution of Clarksville's business area, "but a 50-acre change -- that's just out of proportion for Clarksville. That's something you put out on (Interstate) 95."
The board also heard testimony on small commercial parcels scattered throughout the west that developers or farmers wanted to rezone commercial so they could build convenience stores and gasoline stations.
Bruce Ridgely, who testified that his family hoped to start a gas station on their land onRoute 97 just south of Route 144 in Cooksville, pointed out that there are no gas stations between Westminster and Olney on Route 97.
Another service station is proposed at Route 97 and Carrs Mill Road.
The largest single change to the zoning map was requested by the non-profit Howard County Fair Association, which is seeking to change a 52-acre residential parcel to commercial zoning.
Association Vice President Rob Moxley testified that the fairgrounds consist of three parcels, two of which are commercial, and the association would like all of them to be the same.
The county Planning Board recommended against the change, saying it was concerned about other possible uses of the land under commercial zoning.
Board member Paul Farragutasked whether the land could be used for something other than the annual county fair and the assortment of livestock and farm machinery shows.
Moxley said he believed the association's charter prohibitedanything other than fairs on the site.