Gas station regulations in the county have changed multiple times throughout the past half-century, sometimes significantly.
Here's a summary of the changes, according to a Department of Planning and Zoning report:
• 1949: "Gasoline filling stations" were allowed in commercial districts if specially approved by the Zoning Commissioner.
• 1954: Gasoline stations were permitted as a matter of right in B-2, M-1 and M-2 districts.
• 1961: Gas stations were required to gain special approval by the Board of Appeals outside of the S-C and M-1 districts (where they were allowed as a matter of right).
• 1973: 1961 zoning regulations were amended to introduce a special exception approval for gas stations based on a finding of "the probability of reasonable public need," based on distance tests and market data.
• 1989: a zoning regulation amendment maintains the "public need" test but removes the distance test requirement.
• 2001: the "public need" test requirement was deleted from the regulations and was replaced by a requirement that a proposed gas station will not negatively impact the general welfare or development of an area, and would not have a "blighting influence" due to proliferation of such uses. These criteria have remained largely unchanged since.
Source: Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning