Holdout Farmers May Sell

Schramms See Green In Housing Market

March 29, 1991|By Robert Lee | Robert Lee,Staff writer

Emma Schramm once told a reporter: "I just say that it takes a good farmer to tell a real estate man to go jump in the lake, when you could earn more in interest than you can make on farming."

But yesterday, in between customers, Schramm reluctantly admitted that her family, which has worked their farm along Mountain Road since 1909, plansto subdivide the property when they retire.

"It's going to break our hearts, but we're going to have to develop it unless we can think of some other way to pay the taxes," she said. "You can't live on Social Security anymore."

Schramm, 62, who runs the farm with her older brothers, William and Louis -- under thewatchful eye of their mother, Evelyn -- said they would continue to grow Christmas trees, flowers, pumpkins and vegetables and operate their produce stand "as long as they can."

The Schramms stopped raising turkeys in January. Several other farmers in Maryland raise and sell fresh turkeys, but the Schramms were the last to breed and hatch their own birds.

Emma Schramm, who, along with her brothers "did our part to stop overpopulation" by never marrying, said the family has been flirting with half a dozen covetous real estate suitors, who are constantly dropping by the vegetable stand.

Schramm's 213-acre farm is surrounded on all sides by strip malls and new town house developments. But it is zoned a combination of R-1 and R-2, so Schramm says "there aren't going to be any strip malls in here."

David Williams, President of the Greater Pasadena Council, was "saddened" to hear that the region may be losing one of its last and best-known ties to its agricultural heritage.

"We live in a growing country and there's nothing we can do about it," he said. "Our children have to live somewhere. I would hope they could build houses and not have a moredense development."

Emma Schramm said the family "secretly" is pulling for the governor's 2020 growth plan, which would channel growthinto previously developed areas and make it impossible for most farmers to subdivide their property.

"We're in an opposite position tomost farmers and I've got mixed emotions," she said. "Since we already have water and sewer for most of the property, we'd be allowed (denser) zoning that might triple the value of our property. But I feelfor the farmers in rural areas; they need to retire too."

The 2020 statewide zoning plan has been tabled for summer study and will return to the state legislature next year.

Schramm said her family figures to be around "at least three years," possibly more, while they mull through the permit process and wait for the right time to sell.

She noted that Ryland Homes has decided to pull out of its town house development across the street, which may signal a glut in the area housing market.

Only 50 of Ryland's 150 town house lots have been developed.

Ryland spokesman Jim Nixon confirmed that the companyhad stopped development of the Aspen Park community. But he said thecompany "hopes the pullout will be temporary" and is more the resultof a contract dispute than an indication of a market slowdown.

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