A place with space -- and conveniences Community is close to schools, also easy Baltimore commute

Neighborhood Profile: Baldwin

January 25, 1998|By Bob Graham | Bob Graham,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Baldwin, a small community straddling Baltimore and Harford counties, is the type of area you drive through without taking notice.

The area's name appears only on the post office, Baldwin Mill Road and Baldwin Estates, and the main roads through the community -- Pleasantville Road, Sunshine Avenue and Long Green Pike -- take people to more populated and popular places like Fallston, Bel Air, Hunt Valley and Towson. But to the roughly 5,100 people who live in the 21013 ZIP code area -- on both sides of the Little Gunpowder River and the protected lands of Gunpowder Falls State Park -- there are plenty of reasons to explain why they've made this area their home.

"You have all the things you really need -- a snowball stand, a carryout pizza place, a convenience store -- right here, and all the other things you want are close enough by to get to real easily," said Lynn Masterson, a guidance counselor at Fallston Middle School who lives on the Harford County side of Baldwin.

Masterson and her husband, Brian, who works in marketing for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. in Woodland, and their two children, Justin, 4, and Collin, 1, moved into a four-bedroom, two-story Colonial they had built in Baldwin in April 1996.

They knew it was the place for them. Lynn Masterson wanted her children to attend the same schools in the Fallston district she attended, although the middle school where she now works did not exist when she graduated from Fallston High School in 1984. They wanted a place that would keep her husband's commute to work reasonably traffic-free and quick; it's a 30-minute drive down Dulaney Valley Road and around the Beltway to Woodlawn.

Throughout the Baldwin area are numerous brick ranchers, some more than a half-century old. Joining them are newer brick-and-vinyl-siding Colonial homes. Most of them are on lots of at least an acre, with a number of homes having between 2 and 10 acres. Several subdivisions in Baldwin prohibit subdividing lots to less than 2 acres, ensuring that the area will remain largely open.

The area has no public water and sewer service, and the wells and septic systems slow growth. Home prices range from $180,000 to more than $500,000 in both counties, although Harford's prices and property taxes are slightly lower.

"It's a really versatile market with a lot of options for homebuyers," said Bob Head, an agent with the Bel Air office of O'Conor, Piper & Flynn Realtors.

Because of the proximity of schools on both sides of the county line, houses can sell quickly to couples with school-age children.

But that wasn't what brought Lester V. Jones, who has lived on Patterson Road for the last 35 years, to Baldwin. He wanted a place where he could have ponies for his two daughters, and where he could land his single-engine Cessna.

Until about 10 years ago, he'd fly on trips with his wife, Shirley, and return to land on a 1,500-foot field outside his five-bedroom house. But the trees that used to mark the end of the runway are now too large to accommodate landings, and the land has become the setting for a home to one of his daughters, Karen, a lawyer in Bel Air.

"To people in Baltimore, this area is really agricultural, but there was even more farming and agriculture when we moved in here," said Jones, who used to practice law in Bel Air and now spends part of his year in Florida.

In the past five years, the last of the dairy farms in the area has closed, and the land is slowly being taken up by Baltimore residents looking for places more open than suburbs along the Beltway, Jones said.

One need only go beyond the neighborhoods such as Carroll Manor, Baldwin Estates, Hurline Farms and Glen Elyn, a newer area at the northernmost point in the Baldwin area, bordering Fallston, to glimpse the area's past.

At Valley Wine Shop, near the intersection of Pleasantville Road, Baldwin Mill Road, Sunshine Avenue and Long Green Pike, employees know customers by name. On a recent morning, the discussion among several customers was about deer and close encounters with traffic.

Baldwin's proximity to job sites in the greater Baltimore area and Bel Air makes the area even more attractive.

When Patrice and Donald Ragaini moved to the area from Connecticut in 1990, they looked at houses on both sides of the county line, but they settled on a 2-year-old, four-bedroom Colonial on a cul-de-sac in Carroll Manor Ridge. Their 1.25-acre lot backs up to the Sweet Air section of Gunpowder Falls State Park, so they constantly see deer, foxes and other wildlife.

"The adjoining lots behind the house are great for the kids to play in," said Patrice Ragaini, who works at PHH Vehicle Management Services in Hunt Valley. Her husband operates a sales route in Baltimore City for American First Aid in Hanover, Howard County. Their daughter, Krista, 10, attends fifth grade at Carroll Manor Elementary, where their son, Justin, 5, is in kindergarten.

Like many Baldwin residents, the Ragainis take an active role in their community. She is president of the Carroll Manor Elementary School PTA and a member of the Fallston Garden Club. Her husband has served as soccer commissioner for a children's league and coach of numerous sports teams for the Carroll Manor Recreation Council.

"It's a great place to live," Patrice Ragaini said, "because you still have farmland and trees, but you're close enough to everything you need."


Population: 5,051 (1990 Census)

Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 30 minutes

Public schools: Carroll Manor Elementary, Hereford Middle, Hereford High (Baltimore County); Youths Benefit Elementary, Fallston Middle, Fallston High (Harford County)

ZIP code: 21013

Average price of a single-family home: $251,437*

* Based on 16 sales in Baltimore County and 14 sales in Harford County during the past twelve months by the Metropolitan Regional Information System.

Pub Date: 1/25/98

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