7/8 TC Eldersburg's location -- the southeast corner of Carroll County -- has made the town a magnet for people who work in the Baltimore-Washington corridor but who want to live away from the more-crowded metropolitan areas.
"Eldersburg is second only to the Westminster area in growth in terms of numbers," says Greg Horner, comprehensive county planner. "It's a planned-growth area and that's exactly what's happening."
New developments, such as Harvest Farms, Warfield's Way, Eldersburg Estates, Oklahoma Estates and Benjamin's Claim are cropping up all over. Construction of new homes ready for occupancy has risen every year from 77 in 1990 to 214 in 1993. So far this year, 60 new homes have been completed, Mr. Horner says.
The county's first mall, Carrolltown Center, built in 1976, has since been joined by Eldersburg Plaza, Freedom Village Shopping Center and a host of smaller strip shopping centers.
In January 1993, R. Dixon Harvey Jr. bought Carrolltowne Mall, renamed it Carrolltown Center, put up new signs and ran a media blitz to let people know what his center had to offer. It worked.
"Traffic is up, leasing activity is up and we have a lot of momentum," Mr. Harvey says. "We basically want to make it the center of the community, where people can come and sit, have a bite to eat, meet a friend, shop, whatever."
The community around Carrolltown Center is growing, even more rapidly since a three-year moratorium on the Freedom District Sewer Treatment Plant was lifted in September 1992.
"The Bureau of Utilities determined that they didn't have the capacity for additional sewer hookups," says Helen Spinelli, county planner. "They upgraded and expanded the plant from 1.8 million gallons a day to 3.5 million gallons a day."
And the population has grown -- from 10,079 in 1980 to 11,629 in 1985 to 13,290 in 1990 to the 14,359 today.
Recreation is plentiful: Eldersburg is bounded by Liberty Reservoir and Dam, Patapsco Valley State Park and Piney Run Park. There's also a six-movie theater, Super Sports Indoor Arena and Liberty Golf Park.
"Everything's here within two miles," says Duane Kruhm, 29, who lives behind Carrolltown Center with his wife, Ann, 25, and son, Josh, 18 months. "We liked the community, it's close to a shopping center, it's a nice quiet community and close to our families."
Though largely a bedroom community, Eldersburg is home to many businesses. Londontown Corp., the seventh-largest employer in the county, is here. A Westinghouse plant is just a couple of miles down Route 32.
Eldersburg is named for John Elder, an early settler who laid out the community before 1800, when residents owned large tracts for farming. Today, it is a sprawling, growing community, with the Liberty Road business district at the core, surrounded by residential subdivisions.
The majority of homes in the older communities are modest ranchers, split foyers and bungalows. On the east and west outskirts of Eldersburg, along Liberty Road, a few old farmhouses remain, surrounded by acres of open fields.
But the fields are rapidly disappearing, with houses being the new crop. For the most part, the new developments consist of more split foyers, Colonials and contemporary single-family homes on lots of an acre or less, priced from $150,000 to $225,000.
Only two or three subdivisions include townhouses or condominiums, and there are few rentals. A few custom-built homes are priced above $300,000.
"Sales are up, even though the interest rates are rising slightly, but maybe that's sparked people who were waiting to buy," says Jim Blaney, who founded RE/MAX Liberty five years ago by himself.
But being popular has its disadvantages. The school system has struggled to keep up with the growth. In September 1992, the community's fourth elementary school opened. Already crowded, it will get a double portable classroom for next year, says Lester Surber, supervisor of school facilities and planning.
4 Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 45 minutes
Commuting time to Washington: 1 hour
Public schools: Eldersburg Elementary, Freedom Elementary, Carrolltowne Elementary, Piney Ridge Elementary, Liberty High
Shopping: Carrolltown Center, Freedom Village Shopping Center, Eldersburg Plaza, plus several smaller strip shopping centers
Nearest mall: Carrolltown Center, in center of Eldersburg
Points of interest: Piney Run Park, Liberty Reservoir and Dam, Patapsco Valley State Park
Average price of a single-family home *: $158,788
ZIP code: 21784
* Average price for homes sold through the Central Maryland Multiple Listing Service over the past 12 months