A secret place hidden behind warehouses Community straddles Howard and Arundel counties

Neighborhood Profile

November 12, 1995|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,SUN STAFF

To drivers rushing by on U.S. 1 or Dorsey Road, the Hanover area may seem like an ugly sea of industrial parks.

What passers-by don't see is the swarm of new-home developments tucked back among the woods behind the warehouses. The Hanover area -- which includes a chunk of Howard County -- is drawing many families who like the area's convenience and, yes, its ambience.

"It's our Anne Arundel sleeper," said Joan Russell, a real estate agent with Long & Foster in Glen Burnie. "It is just a darling little pocket, with all kinds of conveniences."

There are actually two Hanovers -- some say three. There's the Anne Arundel part of Hanover, just west of Baltimore-Washington International Airport, which includes a fair share of industrial parks. There's the Harmans area, which is now served by the Hanover post office. Finally, there's the Howard County side of Hanover, whose residents generally consider themselves part of Elkridge.

Some people move to Hanover because they want Howard County amenities at a good price. Others enjoy Hanover's central location, an easy commute from Baltimore, Washington, or the airport. Still others say they like the small-town atmosphere.

The Howard County part of Hanover offers desirable Howard County schools and other services, but with cheaper housing than elsewhere in the county and lower taxes than Columbia, said Frank Sopato, a real estate agent with Century 21 H. T. Brown in Laurel.

Donald Hillman, an agent with ReMax Advantage in Columbia, said new homes in the Howard County section of Hanover can cost up to $50,000 less than comparable models farther west in the county.

"It's the cheapest place to enter Howard County, so far," he said. As more people discover the area, prices will increase, he predicted, and the eventual completion of Route 100, which will connect U.S. 1 to Gibson Island, will spur growth.

Route 100 between U.S. 1 and Interstate 97 is scheduled to be completed in spring 1996, said John Healy, spokesman for the State Highway Administration.

Convenience explains Hanover's growing popularity, Mr. Sopato said. The area is just a few minutes away from I-95, I-195, the Harbor Tunnel Thruway and the airport. Two-career families with one partner commuting to Baltimore and the other heading to Washington appreciate Hanover's accessibility, he said. Military families appreciate the 20-minute commute to Fort Meade.

Sharon Stencil, whose family is moving from Arbutus to the Patapsco Ridge development on the Howard County side of Hanover, agreed.

"It's convenient to everything," she said, adding that because the community is set back from U.S. 1, "You don't feel like everything's right on top of you."

Ms. Stencil will commute to Fort Meade. Her husband, whose work takes him around the region, will take advantage of Hanover's good road connections.

In addition to the convenience, the Stencils also liked the neighborhood and the historic Elkridge flavor.

Linda Carey, who lives in the Canbury Woods development on the Howard County side of Hanover, also praised the community's atmosphere. Her mailing address is Hanover, but she considers herself a citizen of Elkridge, where she is a member of the board of the Elkridge Community Association. Her family enjoys Elkridge amenities, such as sports leagues run by the local youth organization. She said a strong community spirit has spawned neighborly rituals such as Easter egg hunts, holiday mailbox-decorating and community covered-dish dinners.

"It's a very safe community," she said. "I feel comfortable letting my son go out and play."

Farther east, aircraft noise has blighted the Anne Arundel County portion of Hanover closest to the airport. Part of Hanover fell within the airport noise zone and was considered unfit for human habitation. Since 1986, the Maryland Aviation Administration has purchased 125 homes there. Some have been relocated. Others have been demolished. Some still sit empty, awaiting their fates.

"It's definitely hurt my business," said Stephen Haney, co-owner of Haney's Groceries and Deli. Except for the industrial parks, the deli is as close as Hanover gets to having a central business district.

"There isn't a town any more, to tell you the truth," Mr. Haney said.

He figures the airport-noise exodus has cost him about $7,500 a month in lost business.

There is some good news. Maryland Aviation Administration spokeswoman Karen Black said that because of changes in airport operations and the development of quieter aircraft, Hanover no longer falls within the airport noise zone. She said some of the land that used to be part of the zone may become available once more for commercial or residential use.

Mr. Haney also hopes business may get a boost one day from a proposed bike trail that would run nearby, linking the BWI Trail and the Patapsco Valley State Park.

To some local residents, the airport's proximity has been a blessing, not a curse.

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