There will be no shopping center at Routes 144 and 97 in Cooksville -- at least not any time soon.
The County Council, sitting as the Zoning Board, agreed unanimously Monday that there was no basis for changing the zoning from rural conservation to general business.
A group called Cooksville Limited Partnership sought to build the shopping center on a 5.8-acre parcel next to a 189-acre farm.
The farm is being subdivided into 41 homesites surrounded by agricultural preservation easements.
In order to win the new zoning, the partnership would have had to prove that the Zoning Board made a mistake in the 1992 comprehensive rezoning or that the neighborhood had changed enough since then to warrant new zoning.
At its work session, the Zoning Board decided that neither condition had been met and voted 5-0 to keep the current zoning. Earlier, the county Planning Board and the county planning office had recommended that the Zoning Board do exactly that.
The zoning request "would have had a much better hearing during comprehensive rezoning," said Board Chairman Darrel Drown of Ellicott City, "because we would have been able to look at it in the whole context" of the county land use planning.
Board member Charles C. Feaga of West Friendship said it was "too bad" that the criteria for a piecemeal zoning change are so restrictive. Since change and mistake are the only criteria, the board had no choice but to reject zoning request, he said.
The board's 5-0 vote denying the request is not official until board members sign a document called a decision and order. Board members are expected to sign that document within two weeks.
James Robert Moxley III, who had hoped to develop the shopping center, said he would have to wait until the decision is official before deciding whether to appeal it.
"We have to wait until it is written and have our counsel review it," he said.