'Sleepy,' but near the action

May 08, 1994|By Ed Brandt | Ed Brandt,Sun Staff Writer

Tom and Debbie Bressler represent the third generation of a family making its living in Glen Arm. Bressler's Nursery is on a hill overlooking a beautiful valley typical of the area.

Harry Page and his mother, Frances, have been operating Long Green Valley Florists for 27 years and look forward to another 27.

Lou Hoffman operates the 100-acre Maple Hill Farm, where he grows apples, peaches, pears and nectarines and sells them in a market in "downtown" Glen Arm. He can walk from his farm -- in his family since the middle 1920s -- to the market in a few minutes.

"Except for the Grumman factory, nothing much has changed here in my memory," Mr. Hoffman, 47, says.

Grumman, which has 90 employees, machines aircraft parts on 46 acres on Long Green Pike, across from the Glen Arm Post Office. The building was constructed by General Engineering in 1956 and sold to Grumman in 1967. The building is up for sale, says director Paul Causey, and if it isn't sold probably will be closed.

Mr. Hoffman and the other residents like the rural atmosphere and want it to stay that way. So do county planning and zoning officials, who have classified much of the surrounding farmland as an agriculture preservation area in the master plan. Glen Arm itself is a "rural village" in the master plan.

Glen Arm -- 10 minutes from the Beltway in northeastern $H Baltimore County -- actually is a scattering of businesses and homes grouped near or on a right-angle crook in Glen Arm Road before the road passes northeast through Glen Arm Valley and ends at Harford Road.

Its postal district, as described by Glen Arm Postmaster Patricia Donohue, extends southwest on Glen Arm Road to Gunpowder Road, north up Manor Road to Dulaney Valley Road, and includes part of Long Green Pike, Factory Road, and a small segment of Harford Road to the south.

It includes such upscale residential areas as Holly Knoll, Ravenhurst, Manor Woods I and II, and Honeysuckle Hill, and covers more than 1,400 homes. Census figures specifically for Glen Arm are not kept, but Ms. Donohue estimates that 3,000 to 5,000 people live in the postal district.

Marean Eikenberg, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Grempler, has sold homes in the area for nine years. "It's still rural, but it's only a few minutes from the Beltway," she says.

Forty-one homes were sold at an average price of $250,110 in the Glen Arm ZIP code area in the 12 months ended on March 31. She says the prices are lower than what might have been expected.

"Corporations are not moving their people around the way they used to," she says, "and many of these are executive homes."

She says new home construction in and around nearby Jacksonville also has affected the value of homes in the Glen Arm area, many of which are 15 to 25 years old.

The largest industry in Glen Arm is United Container Machinery, which has more than 300 employees and constructs machines that make corrugated boxes. Its antecedents go back to 1910 and the F. X. Hooper Co., which also made machinery.

Nearby Glen Meadows retirement home, on 500 acres formerly owned by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, has about 200 residents and still is growing. It's on Glen Arm Road about two miles southwest of Glen Arm.

Glen Arm was named after a town in Scotland in 1882 by Thomas Armstrong, treasurer of the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad, says county historian John McGrain. The Ma and Pa had a station there and in nearby Long Green Valley.

The Glen Arm train station, more than 100 years old, is occupied by the Long Green Station Gourmet Deli and Carryout, operated by Ben Wannen, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.

Mr. Wannen calls Glen Arm "sleepy," except during rush hours twice a day, when commuters from Bel Air and Fallston pour through the village on their way to the Beltway.

"You can hardly walk across the road during the morning and afternoon rush hours," says florist Harry Page.

Tom Bressler likes Glen Arm because it's in the country, but near shopping areas. "And you pretty much know everyone," he says.

His seven-acre nursery borders on a 230-acre family-owned farm that was once considered as a site for a gun club, and later for a housing development.

"I think that chapter is finished," Mr. Bressler says. "I expect this part of Glen Arm to stay the way it is."

A measure of Glen Arm's rural charm can be seen on numerous utility poles, where church and volunteer fire station country dinners, pig roasts, maple syrup pancake breakfasts, yard sales, and lost animals are advertised for the price of a handmade sign and a nail.

Gary Kerns, a chief planner in the county Office of Planning anZoning, says the county is holding the line against rezoning in the Glen Arm area.

"It is very difficult to get a zoning change in the entire area," he says.

Much of the property is farmland and is zoned RC-2, or one housing unit per 50 acres.

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