Tranquillity, nice mix of people in 'oasis away from the city' Russett residents like the green space and one another

Neighborhood Profile: Russett

September 20, 1998|By Melinda Rice | Melinda Rice,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Michelle McSweeney wanted out of the city. No more renting or living with her parents -- she wanted a home of her own.

She found it in Russett, a 613-acre planned community in a part of westernmost Anne Arundel County bounded by the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Fort Meade and the Howard County line.

With sales beginning in 1991, Russett is a mixed community of condominiums, townhouses and single-family homes that attracts singles, young professional couples and families.

"I liked the mixture of people I saw when I drove through," said McSweeney, a 41-year-old native of Washington.

She was living in an apartment in Silver Spring three years ago when she enlisted the help of a Realtor friend and started her search. Her friend had heard about Russett, and a visit to the community convinced McSweeney that it was the place for her. She bought a townhouse for $120,000 in March 1996.

"I especially liked the woodsy feeling," McSweeney said. "You're sort of nestled in here."

More than a third of the community's acreage is reserved as green space, including a 230-acre wooded area called Oxbow Nature Preserve that includes Oxbow Lake.

The community, built in three phases, was designed to optimize its undeveloped land and buffer its residents from the busy commercial area less than five minutes away, said Elliott Finkelstein, a spokesman for developer Marshall Zinn.

That is a selling point for many residents.

"It gives you a sense of not being in the city, but you're still really close," said Michele Steinhauser. She and her husband, Curtis, bought a Russett townhouse for $156,000 four years ago.

The tranquil setting prompted them to buy, but it's their neighbors who cause them to remain. The Steinhausers, both 31, plan to keep their Russett townhouse for three to five more years.

"It's definitely the neighbors, they're very friendly; we're all close," Steinhauser said.

David Levin, 33, also likes his neighbors, but said location and price had more to do with the decision that he and his wife, Becky, 32, made to move to Russett.

The Levins had been living in a Baltimore condo and had been looking for a home for more than two years when a Realtor persuaded them to look at a single-family home in Russett.

The location was right because Becky, a trade show manager for the American Bankers Association, worked in Washington and David worked in downtown Baltimore. The area is equidistant from both jobs, and the Levins liked the fact that the Baltimore-Washington Parkway was so close. After looking at a floor plan, the Levins first thought it was too small. But an on-site inspection changed their minds.

David Levin said he and his wife knew as soon as they walked through the house that they wanted it.

They bought a two-story, three-bedroom home on a cul-de-sac for a price "in the $170,000s -- very affordable," Levin said. The house has a finished basement and a one-car garage.

'Actually perfect for us'

"The house is actually perfect for us," David Levin said. If our family does increase, it could certainly accommodate that."

Pam and Allen Snook, both 28, also had children in mind when they bought a Russett townhouse for $160,000 four years ago. They liked the reputation of the schools, the people they met and amenities such as children's pools and playgrounds.

They had their first child, Kathleen, in May. "We were just planning ahead," Allen said with a laugh.

Both Snooks are very involved with the community, and help plan many neighborhood activities. Allen designed Russett's commercial Web site, and Pam helped to launch a Web site for the Russett Community Association.

The community association assesses each household based on the price of the home.

The fee goes toward maintaining Russett common areas. Some townhouse residents pay additional fees for maintenance of their roads which, under county law, are private rather than public streets.

Greg Croft has seen a lot of changes in Russett since he moved there in 1992 with his wife, Dawn, and son, Zack, now 11. They were among the very first Russett residents when they bought a townhouse for $158,000.

Within Russett, townhouses have been built by Cosca Brookfield Homes, Bozzuto Homes, Trafalgar House Residential, Ryan Homes, Richmond American Homes and Altieri Homes. Townhouses have two to three bedrooms, and some have garages. Townhouse prices start in the $120,000 range.

Nature preserve

Single-family homes in the community have been built by Ryan Homes, Richmond American Homes and Patriot Homes, with prices starting in the $160,000s. Houses have two to five bedrooms; all have garages and many have finished basements.

Condominiums, built by Bozzuto, are also available within Russett, starting in the $90,000s. There is also an apartment complex called Summit Russett that offers one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

Patricia Caffrey lives in one of the condominiums that offers views of the nature preserve.

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