High quality of life amid the rolling hills


Many housing styles, and many people glad to reside there

January 21, 2001|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

An advertisement 30 years ago beckoned homebuyers to come see the lovely rolling hills of Carroll County, and nestled in those hills was Carroll County Trails in Finksburg.

Today, while the county is a much different place, Finksburg has remained very much the same.

"We made a good choice moving here," said Doris Edwards, who moved to the Carroll County Trails development with her husband, Jack, in 1974.

Finksburg, situated along Route 140 between Reisterstown and Westminster, encompasses nearly 9,000 acres. It is known as the gateway to Carroll County by many of its more than 17,000 residents.

With that much land, the area is home to many housing styles that can please just about any homebuyer. Available are everything from 30-year-old Colonials, ranchers and split-levels to new four- and five-bedroom estates. Mixed in are many of the original farms that have survived the increasing pressures of development.

"The area has a wide variety of housing. Included in Finksburg are two of the three most upscale housing communities in Carroll County - River Downs and the Preserve at Beaver Creek," said Judy Tyree, office manager of O'Conor, Piper & Flynn ERA in Westminster.

While the generous assortment of homes accommodates first-time homebuyers, the area seems to mainly attract those looking to upgrade.

"You really have everything from medium income on up," Tyree said. "It's definitely attractive for people coming from a townhouse or small, single-family house who want to move into a three- or four-bedroom home."

The average single-family home in Finksburg will include at least three bedrooms and sit on a half-acre or more with many of the lots more than 3 acres. The average price of a Finksburg home falls in the $160,000 to $240,000 range.

While the housing variety is sure to please any palate, the real appeal is location, Tyree said.

"The main attraction and why people like Finksburg is its convenience to Interstate 795. A lot of people like being able to get right on the beltways. And from Finksburg, they can go in and out of all the major roads easily," Tyree said. "Lots of buyers come in and say they want to live within 30 or 45 minutes of downtown Baltimore. So that gives you the Finksburg area."

The convenient location combined with the rural atmosphere was why Larry and Debbie Lockwood moved to Finksburg from Baltimore County 10 years ago.

"We both work in Owings Mills. So it's convenient to everything, but yet there's still a bit of country left," said Debbie Lockwood. "One of the things I really like about it is the fact that it's still very rural, but you have the sense of modern conveniences. We live in a development with lots of kids, but we have a horse farm right across from us. It's kind of a slice of heaven."

Don Hoffman moved to Finksburg 14 years ago, also for its proximity to his job in Baltimore. He is head of the Finksburg Planning Area Council.

"Finksburg is spread out over a large geographic area, so it is not a close community," Hoffman said. "I don't mean that to detract from the area. In fact, I think that's one of the benefits. Because it is so large, we still have some of the most pristine country areas."

For many people, the intersection of Routes 140 and 91 and the many billboards that are associated with the area are all they ever see of Finksburg. But those who live there know that traveling only a few minutes in either direction of the intersection will take them into the rural countryside.

"To me, Finksburg is rolling hills, lovely vistas and offers what I believe to be a high quality of life," Hoffman said. "It offers a lot for everybody. It's just a great area in which to live."

For Dave and Laura O'Callaghan, moving to Finksburg meant moving closer to nature.

"We had just gotten married and we were looking for our first home together; we came out here and absolutely fell in love with the home and the area," said Laura O'Callaghan, whose house backs up to the Liberty Reservoir watershed.

"I love rural areas a great deal, and we like the fact that our home was in a small, older development," O'Callaghan added. "Our property backs up to the woods of the watershed and we love it. There is a fair amount of growth in Finksburg, but essentially the area has been maintained and there are incredibly beautiful farms, wonderful homes and great people."

Controlling the growth is what the Finksburg Planning Area Council is most concerned with. The council has continually pressed the Carroll County Commissioners to maintain a level of growth that will not harm the area. Recently, a county planner was assigned to Finksburg who will assist in developing a community conservation plan.

The plan will help shape what Finksburg will look like in the next 20 years. On the council's wish list is a reduction in the number of billboards and the addition of a public library.

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