Ask Bruce Fink why people just don't seem to leave Linthicum and he'll offer the same answer for why the community's homes sell so well.
"Location, location, location," says Fink, a Realtor who has lived in Linthicum all of his 34 years.
The community of 2,400 mostly single-family homes near Baltimore-Washington International Airport sits close to Baltimore, Westinghouse Corp. and the National Security Agency, where many residents work. In minutes, Linthicum residents can reach just about every major thoroughfare -- Interstate 97, Route 3, the beltway.
But a prime location has served as a double-edged sword. It has brought a miniboom during the past decade that has eaten away the last of the buildable land and prompted residents to turn to their community association to protect their way of life.
During his years as a community activist and now as president of the Linthicum/Shipley Improvement Association, Fink has battled everything from monster potholes to airport-generated noise pollution.
The latest battles concern airport noise, a proposal to extend a light-rail spur through Linthicum to the airport and a move to keep the community's single-family homes from turning into apartments rented by absentee landlords.
"Linthicum's a well-cared-for community, and we want to keep it that way," he said.
Though most of Linthicum falls outside the airport's noise zone, residents have complained over the years that ground noise from engine testing, the loss of trees for a parking lot and the extension of a commuter runway have contributed to noise.
Two weeks ago, members of the association testified at a congressional hearing in Washington in favor of federal legislation requiring quieter engines in aircraft.
Association members expect another fight as the state Department of Transportation decides where to locate the rail spur on the Hunt Valley to Dorsey Road line. The association opposes a plan to cut through Linthicum that they believe would miss riders along the Nursery Road commercial corridor and fall too close to a future middle school and residents' front lawns, Fink said.
"Everyone is in favor of the light-rail concept to get traffic off the road," he said. "But if you build a system that is not effective and costs more money in the long run, why do it at all?"
Much of Linthicum remained unchanged while Fink was growing up there.
Then, 10 years ago, builders developed Linthicum Oaks. Two years ago, builders finished the Orchards of Linthicum, a 60-home West Maple Road community. Developers are about to build another 150 homes in three separate subdivisions. Meanwhile, commercial development on Nursery Road has increased traffic, while airport expansion has contributed to noise.
Fink began volunteering his time to Linthicum more than a decade ago. A real estate colleague who belonged to the community association's board of directors encouraged Fink to join. He became community action chairman.
"My career was dealing with people who live in Linthicum and selling their homes," he said of his transition to community activist. "With an older-age community of people who do stay here, they do have a need for a strong association to speak for them. If anyone had potholes or saw unlicensed cars, they'd all call me."
In June 1989, he was elected president, a post he won again last June.
In an upcoming project, he plans to work with the association to set up a community recycling center behind Linthicum Shopping Center.