Neat traditions growing fast on 129 acres of Carroll earth Parades and other fun tomorrow's memories in Diamond Hills

Neighborhood Profile: Diamond Hills

August 09, 1998|By Lisa Breslin | Lisa Breslin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When investors purchased 129 acres in rural Carroll County almost 10 years ago, they knew they had a prime location. It was near grocery stores, a new elementary school, a shopping mall and a strong community college.

Baltimore was an easy 40-minute commute, and not far from every home were mountain vistas and pastoral farms.

All that had to be established was a diverse and affordable housing community and Multi-Properties Inc., the Baltimore-based real estate investors, would soon be placing sold signs on each lot.

What investors didn't know was that they were creating a community of families with backgrounds as diverse as the home styles they purchased.

They would enliven the area with parades, politics, progressive dinners and philanthropic projects.

Lawyers, teachers, parents, investors, counselors, contractors and engineers now call this 210-unit development, Diamond Hills, their home.

One of the only links to the original rolling farm is an old family graveyard, which rests, well manicured, in a sea of single-family homes, estates, townhouses and carriage houses (two- and three-bedroom homes that share a common garage wall).

Today, Diamond Hills is a community that organizes its own Fourth of July parade, complete with tractor races (Mike McKelvin's John Deere usually wins), the Statue of Liberty, and children throwing candy while a recording of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA," blares.

Almost every other week during the summer, more than 20 children gather for activities such as tie-dying shirts and taking part in progressive picnics and field trips to parks and museums.

"Children in this neighborhood will hopefully look back and think, 'Wow, we did some neat stuff,' " said Penny Lynch, mother of Megan, 9, and Trevor, 5.

Lynch's husband, Bob, is on the board of the community association.

"We looked at a lot of places before we picked Diamond Hills," said Vicki Anzmann, another community association board member, and key organizer for many of the children's events.

Having a strong elementary school across the street, sidewalks, and lots of children for their children, Tyler and Trevor, to play with prompted Vicki and her husband, Mark, to move from Reisterstown two years ago.

"Even before we moved in, I met people through the school's PTO," Vicki said.

"In this neighborhood, you can ask anyone to watch your children for an hour. The camaraderie is great."

Every other month, women in the community, sometimes as many as 30, gather for Ladies Night Out. Whether it's dinner at a local restaurant, a home tour, a movie, or a trip to the local theater for a play, they make it a point to set aside time from their hectic schedules (and their husbands and children) to relax.

"It's an uninterrupted time to talk and laugh, although some of the best children's activities have been planned during Ladies Night Out," said Cindy Smith, a Diamond Hills resident since 1993 with her husband, Craig, and children Ian, 8, Shannon, 6, and Kyle, 6.

Many volunteer time

While Diamond Hills residents know how to have fun, they seem equally passionate about giving time to the local schools and their community.

Throughout the years, many of the neighboring school's PTO officers have come from Diamond Hills, and many parents devote hours of volunteer time in the school system.

"We all know we are fortunate for what we have," said Vicki Anzmann. "By adopting needy families at Christmas, hosting a back-to-school party before school and asking each family to bring school supplies for needy children, we remind our children that you can always do something to help."

The handful of 1- to 2-acre lots left in Diamond Hills sell for approximately $55,000 to $75,000. Powers Homes, Ryan Homes, Gilligan Homes and other builders adhere to such architectural guidelines as 50 percent brick fronts and two-car garages for each of the single-family homes.

Estates in the development, which have a required minimum of 2,400 square feet that most homes in Diamond Hills exceed, start in the high $200,000 range; single-family homes begin selling for approximately $190,000, carriage homes for $155,000 and townhouses in the low $120,000s.

Award of Excellence

The diversity of home styles in Diamond Hills earned the community the Award of Excellence from the Land Development Council of the Home Builders Association of Maryland in 1994.

"I like being able to count on my neighbors," said Terri Keel, who moved from North Carolina in 1997 with her husband, Steve, and children Ellen, 6, Sam, 8, and Ann Rae, 11.

"Diamond Hills is an active neighborhood. And, if you need a can of soup, or children for your children to play with -- it's all here."

Diamond Hills

Population: 800

Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 40 minutes

Public schools: Friendship Valley Elementary, East Middle, Westminster High

Shopping: Downtown Westminster, Cranberry Mall

Points of interest: Carroll County Farm Museum, Hoffman's Ice Cream, Baugher's Farm and Market

ZIP code: 21157

Average price of a single-family home: $200,000 *

* Based on five sales in the last 12 months by the Metropolitan Regional Information System.

Pub Date: 8/09/98

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