Trails for a boy, the good life for all Piney Orchard offers charm and convenience in a range of prices

Neighborhood profile: Piney Orchard

March 01, 1998|By Melinda Rice | Melinda Rice,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Adam Klinger held his index finger to his lips as a warning.

"Sssshh," said the 4-year-old. "We're looking for squirrels."

In his right hand, he clutched a bag of Hershey's Kisses, convinced that his furry prey would like them better than the nuts his mother said they liked.

"Of course, he's going to want to eat what the squirrels don't," said his mother, Barbara Bissel-Klinger.

She speaks from experience. She and Adam, her first child, frequently walk the trails of Piney Orchard and visit the community's 45-acre nature preserve. Adam keeps a journal of sorts. In a spiral-bound notebook he pastes stickers of the animals seen on each walk. Pictures of rabbits, frogs and raccoons have joined the pictures of squirrels in his book.

"We couldn't do this living in the city -- not without getting in the car and driving to a park," said Bissel-Klinger, who is expecting her second child in June. "Here, it's like we're living in the middle of the park."

The Klinger family moved into a Piney Orchard townhouse 11 months ago, seeking a quiet, family-oriented neighborhood in which children could grow up away from congestion and crime.

Piney Orchard is a planned community 20 miles from Baltimore in Anne Arundel County, where residents can go from preschool to senior citizen assisted living without ever leaving the enclave.

It began blossoming six years ago along Piney Orchard Parkway -- from which it takes its name -- south of Odenton.

Townhouses were first, and were quickly joined by single-family homes and, later, condominiums. Last year, an apartment complex opened in the community.

"We watched the change from woods and farm into what is now Piney Orchard; the natural beauty of the area really complements the development," said Glenn Brown, who moved with his family into a Piney Orchard townhouse almost five years ago.

Brown's wife, Maria, a self-described "home engineer," grew up in Odenton, and Piney Orchard offered a chance to live close to her parents and childhood home. For Glenn, who works at the University of Maryland, College Park as director of marketing for instructional television, it was a chance for a nice home with an easy commute.

Baltimore is 20 miles to the north, Washington 25 miles to the south, and there is a MARC commuter train station two miles from the community.

Apartments in Piney Orchard begin renting for about $600 per month. Newly built condominiums sell in the $80,000 to $90,000 range. Townhouses -- some with garages -- range from $105,000 to $150,000, and prices for single-family homes begin in $180,000s and range to the low $200,000s.

"The housing you can find in other places; it's the amenities that makes Piney Orchard special," said Larry Lichtenaur, a spokesman for Constellation Real Estate Inc., which developed the 2,000-acre community where five builders are still filling out the community.

Those amenities include the four miles of trails -- accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists -- and the nature preserve that the Klingers use so often, as well as two indoor swimming pools and one outdoor pool, tennis courts and the Piney Orchard Ice Arena.

A community center serves as a gathering place for residents as well as a place for visitors to get information about Piney Orchard. Residents on their way to aerobics classes at the center sometimes stop to answer questions for people who are considering a move to Piney Orchard.

Leave it to Jennifer

"I always tell them to move here," said Jennifer Reyes, a Baltimore optician who moved into a Piney Orchard townhouse six months ago.

"This is like a Beaver Cleaver community and it's only half an hour from Baltimore and Washington. You can talk to your neighbors here. You know that you have the same values since you all decided to live here."

Residents will soon have the use of a ball field, which is to be ready this year. A day care center, the Kiddie Academy Child Care Center, opened this year, and a senior assisted-living center, the Rose Hill Senior Assisted Living Facility, is open as well.

To support the amenities, residents pay a fee to the Piney Orchard Community Association. The fee, however, does not include the day care and senior center services or the ice rink, and it is based on the value of the residents' property.

"I liked the planned community aspect and the emphasis on family," said Sheryl Taylor, who moved from Northern Virginia seven months ago into a pale yellow two-story home with steep gables and a two-car garage.

A single mother who is raising son Dylan, 3 1/2 , Taylor wanted to be closer to her sister who lives in Arnold, but close enough to her job with the federal government in New Carrollton to make the commute easy.

"It's really family-oriented and I feel good here," Taylor said.

As do many of her neighbors, Taylor marks the passage of time with seasonal flags fluttering above her garage door -- a red heart on a white background for Valentine's Day, a green shamrock for St. Patrick's Day.

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