Nearly 100 acres of rural land will be rezoned for commercial use under a comprehensive rezoning of the western county, County Council members decided last week.
The changes included nearly 37 acres of land in Clarksville, where the county Department of Planning and Zoning recommended consolidating a lattice-work of commercial and rural properties.
Twenty-three of the 30 zoning changes were approved unanimously by four council members, sitting as the Zoning Board. Councilwoman Shane Pendergrass, who represents the southeastern county, did not attend the Tuesday afternoon work session.
The board rejected four individual rezoning requests totaling 258 acres, as the planning department had recommended. Three individual requests to rezone rural property for commercial use for small stores and gasoline stations will be considered next week after council members have a chance to look at the properties.
The board will have a short work session at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the council conference room to complete comprehensive rezoning work. New regulation and zoning map decisions are not final until at least three of the five council members sign the documents, which will be written by the county Office of Law.
Two of the requests rejected by the board sought to change land to the new Rural Residential zoning category instead of the new Rural Conservation zoning recommended by the Department of Planning and Zoning.
"It conflicts with the whole concept of having the RC zone and the RR zone," said Councilman Paul Farragut, a Democrat who represents eastern Columbia.
"That would open Pandora's box if you suddenly allow two property owners to go into the RR zone. Then they could become receiving zones for development."
Rural Residential zoning allows property owners to develop more homes than would normally be allowed, by paying other property owners not to develop.
But Councilman Charles Feaga, a Republican who represents the western county, said he might have voted for the changes to Rural Residential if he had thought there was a chance to dissolve the new rural zoning barriers.
The Rural Residential district, as proposed, cuts a swath through western Carroll to Montgomery County, leaving the rest as Rural Conservation zoning. Mr. Feaga said he believes it would make more sense to allow at least the eastern strip proposed for Rural Conservation to be developed as much as the Rural Residential zone.
"It was apparent that the council was not going to break through and treat the whole western county the same," Mr. Feaga said.
He said one of the rejected changes, a 120-acre tract known as the Mooseberger property, would have made sense because it is surrounded by half-acre zoning.