Clarksville Post Office

Bill Dailey, of Highland, former postmaster at the Highland Post Office, said it "was a shame" that the Clarksville Post Office was closing. (Staff photo by Brian Krista / August 2, 2011)

The post office on Auto Drive in Clarksville will be closing its doors after Aug. 12 because the property owners decided not to renew its lease.

The possibility of opening another post office location in Clarksville is "under study," Yvette Singh, spokeswoman for the Baltimore district of the U.S. Postal Service, said Monday, Aug. 1.

Starting Aug. 13, she said, customers should go to the post office at 3375 Ellicott Center Drive in Ellicott City, which is where the employees from Clarksville will be moving.

"Mail delivery (in Clarksville) will take place as normal," she added.

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News of the closure was first reported by River Hill resident Trevor Greene on his blog, HoCo Politico.

The closing is unrelated to the U.S. Postal Service's recently announced plan to close 41 post offices in Maryland. None of those closings are in Howard County.

The Postal Service leases the space on Auto Drive from property owners Walter and Ilene Veasel, of Ellicott City. The Veasels bought the property, which is slightly under one acre, from 108 Limited Partnership in 1996 for $142,000, according to Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation property records.

Ilene Veasel said there are "several reasons" she and her husband decided not to renew the lease.

"For one thing, we don't want to get tied down with a long lease again," she said.

The terms of the lease had been negotiated with the previous owner, Veasel said, and under that lease, which ends this month, "the rent decreased each period."

"We lost a lot of money," she said. "Someone was willing to pay us a higher price for a short-term lease."

An uncertain future

Veasel said she did not want another long-term lease because of uncertainty over the property's future.

The county sent a letter to the Veasels last month saying it may need to acquire part of their property to build a road to connect Auto Drive, Great Star Drive and Route 108.

"The County is proposing to establish a capital project for the Clarksville area that will help mitigate traffic congestion and provide enhanced access for the Gateway School site," the letter reads. "As an adjacent or nearby property owner, this project may impact your property."

The Planning Board is holding a public hearing on the proposed capital project Thursday, Aug. 4. After a Planning Board recommendation is issued, the proposal will go before the County Council for approval.

"We just thought there were so many questions with this road," Veasel said.

She said she is worried the county may try to take the land under eminent domain, the legal process under which a government entity can condemn land for public use.

"We're just kind of wondering what's going to happen," Veasel said. "They may not take any of our land at all. They may take it all from Win Kelly (Chevrolet)."

The county's proposal is to have the access road run right between the Chevrolet dealer and the Veasels' property. The project is estimated to cost $4.3 million.