Planning Board favors Rt. 97 store-gas station

December 12, 1993|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

The county Planning Board has recommended rezoning part of a Cooksville farm for a small convenience center and a gasoline station on Route 97.

The decision came the day after another request for the new rural business zoning category -- which the Planning Board refused to endorse -- ran into trouble with the Zoning Board.

The Planning Board voted 4-0 Thursday to recommend that the Zoning Board approve the 13.9-acre change in Cooksville from rural conservation, which allows one home for every 4.25 acres, to rural business. The farm is owned by Brice, Mary Anne, Stephen and William Ridgely, whose family has farmed the site since the 1940s.

One resident questioned the need for more than one gasoline station in the area but was told by county planning officials that the other planned retail center in question, a mile south on Route 97 at McKendree Road, did not include a service station.

Plans for the center include a facility to repair tractors and other farm equipment; a tack shop run by Brice Ridgely's two rodeo-star sons; and possibly a deli, flower shop, video store or bank.

The family has been selling sweet corn and other produce from a stand by the side of Route 97 for about 20 years and would probably continue to do so if the center is developed.

The case marked the first time the Planning Board recommended approval of the "floating" zoning category created in the 1992 comprehensive rezoning of western Howard.

The category is floating because it can be applied wherever County Council members, sitting as the Zoning Board, deem appropriate. To obtain a traditional, nonfloating zoning change, a land owner must prove that the character of the neighborhood has changed or that the existing zoning was a mistake.

On June 24, Planning Board members recommended against the first rural business petition, which seeks the rezoning of a 6-acre Mount Airy homesite on West Watersville Road.

The Zoning Board heard testimony Wednesday night on that petition by George W. Brown, who lives on the site and owns two business in Ellicott City.

Zoning Board members raised some of the same questions raised by Planning Board members, such as whether Mr. Brown's intended activity -- repairing the 35 vehicles in his business fleet -- met the requirement of serving the local community. The hearing was continued until 8 p.m. Jan. 12.

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