Life is still sweet just 8 miles from temptation


To farm, or to sell, that is the question at tiny Taylorsville

August 15, 1999|By Charles Belfoure | Charles Belfoure,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

"It's getting tough to farm around here," says Taylorsville farmer John Condon. "It's probably more profitable to plant houses."

The rural community at the junction of Liberty Road and Route 27 in Carroll County is still mostly farmland, but the wave of development is just eight miles to the east in Eldersburg.

"Every year my father and I debate about what to do," explained Condon, 28, a third-generation farmer who has lived all his life in Taylorsville. "Farm prices have fallen across the board, and it's not a very profitable situation."

Farmers in this part of the county are faced with a choice of selling to developers or continuing to farm. Condon has planted soybeans and wheat, but it's hay that has kept the money coming in. "I sell hay to racetracks like Laurel, to horse farms around here and to landscape companies," he said.

Founded in 1848 and named in honor of Zachary Taylor, Taylorsville has always been a very small community.

"This is it," said the attendant of the Exxon station pointing to the intersection of Routes 26 and 27 when asked where the center of Taylorsville is. The commercial district is made of a 7-Eleven store, Wagner's Corner Restaurant, a liquor store and three gasoline stations.

People have been finding their way to Taylorsville, however.

Braddock Estates is a development of ranchers and split-levels that is being built off Route 27. The increased traffic volume is the biggest indicator of change.

To some, the change has brought good fortune. Debbie Longrill, owner of the Stone Cellar, a store that specializes in locally made crafts, says her business has done very well in the two years it's been open.

"There have been a lot of new houses which is good for my custom-framing and home-decorating business," she said. Her son has a tree nursery that provides landscaping to the new houses as well.

Many of Taylorsville's new residents are from Montgomery County. Escaping the high housing prices there, they can find a moderately priced home here on a 2-acre lot. "People who want isolation and the feeling of being out in the country move here," said Ken Weinberg, an associate broker with ERA-Pro in Frederick. Weinberg recently sold a house in Braddock Estates after only five days on the market.

Houses in Taylorsville range in price from the $160,000s to about $200,000. "Some people who have been shut out of the Mount Airy market, where houses sell for $260,000 to $300,000, have moved to Taylorsville," Weinberg said.

The trade-off on the lower housing prices is a longer commute to Washington, Rockville or Gaithersburg. There are also residents who commute to Frederick and Baltimore via Interstate 70, which is only six miles away, according to Longrill. For shopping, most residents travel north on Route 27 to Westminster or south to Mount Airy.

If development does come to Taylorsville, it will be limited by Carroll County's master plan that calls for limited commercial growth and low-density residential building. According to Jeanne Joiner, bureau chief in the Carroll County Department of Planning, most of the land in Taylorsville is zoned agricultural. The regulations allow only one residential lot for every 20 acres of farmland or five homes per 100 acres.

The latest county master plan in 1998 recognized Taylorsville as a rural village, not a major site for development under the state's Smart Growth agenda. "With no public water or sewer, Taylorsville will probably stay the way it is," Joiner said.

That would suit Taylorsville residents just fine.

Condon, who fears that his way of life could vanish one day, says Taylorsville is still "a great place to live."


ZIP codes: 21157, 21776, 21771

Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 50 minutes

Public schools: Winfield Elementary, Mount Airy Middle School, South Carroll High School

Shopping: downtown Westminster, Cranberry Mall

Homes on market: 4

Average listing price: $215,550*

Average sales price: $208,522*

Average days on the market: 342*

Sales price as a percentage of listing price: 97%*

*Based on 6 sales in the last 12 months as recorded by the Metropolitan Regional Information System.

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