Rural serenity close to the action


Glen Arm's residents savor the good life

May 06, 2001|By Daphne Swancutt | Daphne Swancutt,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

For folks in Glen Arm, it's as much about presence as it is about absence.

That's what draws them to the serene town 10 miles northeast of the Baltimore Beltway loosely wrapped by Loch Raven Reservoir and Gunpowder Falls State Park.

What's absent is your neighborhood burger palace, 7-Eleven and Target.

What's present is almost Wordsworthian - lush farmland, rolling roads and gentle, winding streams.

Locals make a habit of impromptu trips to the tiny post office just to "see what's happening."

"There're people who come in daily whether they have mail or not, just to talk," Adam Strine, the post office's window clerk, said with a laugh.

It's the post office and a few businesses that compose the small town center. Little has changed in decades either there or beyond from a development perspective, said Lou Hoffman, who operates the Maple Hill Farms store and has lived in Glen Arm all of his 54 years.

"Used to be a couple of grocery stores," Hoffman recalled. "But don't know what happened to them."

And the most significant residential development occurred nearly 30 years ago in the Manor Road area, said Ward Dawson, an agent with Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.

But residents don't miss any of it. Because, while they may not want pedestrian convenience and the frenetic energy of city life in their faces, they don't have to go far to get them.

It just feels like you're a long way from everything, said Sally Buck, whose family has operated neighboring Boordy Vineyards since 1980. Shopping and entertainment are but six or seven miles down the road.

"After you get off Cromwell Bridge Road, the temperature drops about 8 degrees and you can feel yourself unwind and relax and enjoy the beautiful countryside," Dawson said.

There aren't many places left like it that have maintained a natural beauty and are insulated from urban sprawl, said Iny Fritz, an agent with O'Conor, Piper & Flynn ERA. "It's kept its rural integrity," she said.

Much of that has to do with zoning. Glen Arm is a combination of several rural conservation (RC) designations that were implemented in the mid 1970s "to better conserve rural resources," said Diana Itter, a community planner with the Baltimore County Office of Planning.

And, said fellow planner Dennis Wertz, since the inception of RC zoning in the Glen Arm area, with a couple of exceptions, there have been "no major changes."

The ubiquitous - and aggressive - Long Green Valley Association has its hand in that.

The community association discourages commercial and large residential development of Glen Arm and the surrounding valley, mostly through lobbying landowners to convey property-development rights.

It's a win-win situation, according to Charlotte Pine, the association's president. Property owners get a tax break or per-acre compensation, and the land is protected.

"When you love your environment and your community, you want to protect it," Pine said.

Every four years, when new zoning requests are heard, the association is right there, its voice loud and resonant.

"We think Glen Arm is kind of neat," Pine said. She and other community members want to keep it that way.

But, she said, no one is trying to keep people out.

"What we're trying to do is preserve the open space and farmland, and to keep the character," she said. That's for the people who are already here.

Just because there haven't been new developments, that doesn't mean there's a shortage of available housing. There are homes to be had, Dawson said. Prices vary from $175,000 to the million-dollar range and above, with the average around $300,000 to $350,000.

Properties go fast, according to Cheryl Winter of O'Conor, Piper & Flynn ERA, who recently had three offers on one home.

"Houses usually have multiple contracts," she said. "It's a nice, quiet location - people want that."

Plus, folks usually don't want to leave. Take the Pattersons, for example. When they decided they wanted to move from their Glen Arm home of 27 years, they moved a mere pasture away.

"My husband said there's no way we're moving out of Glen Arm," Lea Patterson said with a laugh.

They found their second home by chance during the filming of "Runaway Bride," a portion of which was done in Glen Arm.

Set on a little more than an acre, the two-story, three-bedroom 1950s home, with an attached in-law suite, had just about everything Lea Patterson desired.

"We wanted a home with that `older' look to it," she said. And, they wanted more living space. That they got, along with a quiet road overlooking pasture in the front and stretching to tree-lined property in the back.

"It's very quiet and peaceful," Patterson said. "People just don't know about Glen Arm.

Glen Arm

ZIP code: 21057

Commute to downtown: 30 minutes

Public schools: Pine Grove Elementary, Gunpowder Elementary, Carroll Manor Elementary, Ridgely Middle, Carroll Manor Middle, Pine Grove Middle, Loch Raven High

Shopping: White Marsh Mall, Towson Town Center, Towson Place, Perring Plaza, North Plaza, Loch Raven Plaza

Homes on market: 6

Average listing price: $279,300

Average sale price: $268,000

Average days on market: 86

Sale price as percentage of listing price: 95.98%

Based on 18 sales in past 12 months, compiled by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.

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