Development in the county's rural western half will be be governed by a new set of rules intended to preserve open space.
County Council members, acting as the Zoning Board, agreed to a new western zoning map Friday, ending a comprehensive rezoning process that began nearly a year ago. County planners expect to release a draft of the rezoning plan for the eastern half of the county this week.
One goal of the new development guideline is to preserve undeveloped rural land. To accomplish that, the board created two zoning districts to replace the previous rural (R) zoning, which allowed one home per 3 acres. The R district was replaced by rural conservation (RC) zoning in the far west and north-central county and rural residential (RR) zoning in the more densely populated area between the RC areas.
The RC district requires that subdivisions of 20 acres or more be clustered at a ratio of one house per 4.25 acres, leaving large tracts of open space.
In the RR district, which runs in a strip just west of Clarksville from Carroll County to Montgomery County, a developer would be allowed to build on smaller lots by buying easements in the rural conservation zone -- in effect, paying RC landowners not to develop.
Planning officials estimate that the new land management, combined with the county's farmland preservation program, could add 14,000 acres of western land to the the 13,000 acres already protected from development.
"My only regret was that they didn't cluster it more tightly -- in other words, more open space and less development. But the principle's good, and I m glad that it was enacted," said Aelred Geis, a Clarksville naturalist and advocate of land preservation.
The new zoning map also converted nearly 100 acres of rural-zoned land for commercial use. Nearly 37 of those acres consolidate the patchwork of rural and commercial properties at routes 108 and 32 in Clarksville.