Lochearn is so nice that few move out

Neighborhood profile

`From here, the only place they go is to nursing homes'

November 18, 2001|By Amelia Cleary | Amelia Cleary,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In 1872, not long after Civil War army wagons packed up and rolled away from headquarters on a Baltimore County estate, Dr. Francis W. Patterson purchased the property. He tended its fields and raised livestock.

One day, Dr. Patterson was given the first registered Devonshire cattle in America to raise on his farm. He was so elated about this gift that he decided to name his estate after the lake in England where the cattle originated: Loch Earn.

Today Lochearn is a suburban neighborhood "linking convenience with charm and care" - as the neighborhood motto states. One mile west of the city line, its rows of towering trees and brick-and-stone homes recall Norman Rockwell images of apple pie and Little League.

Margaret Harps, a portrait painter, moved to her three-bedroom stone Colonial 11 years ago, attracted by Lochearn's stable community and location. Today, as a member of the Lochearn Improvement Association's hospitality committee, she sends out announcements to welcome new homeowners.

Harps says that after people move to Lochearn, they rarely have the desire to move anywhere else.

"From here, the only place they go is to nursing homes," she added.

Jeanne Turnock, an independent real estate broker, attributes the neighborhood's appeal to well-built homes at affordable prices - many of the colonials have hardwood floors and fireplaces - and nostalgia.

Once the trackless trolley made its debut along Liberty Road in the 1920s, city residents began moving out to the country. Using high-quality materials, developers built new homes for wealthy buyers on large lots in Lochearn. "Today it has working-class neighborhood prices," Turnock said.

According to Steve Daniller, an agent for O'Conor, Piper & Flynn ERA, new homeowners are moving in and revitalizing homes and the area.

As a result of these improvements, property values are going up. The stone colonials range in price from $170,000 to $180,000, while the smaller Cape Cods sell for between $110,000 and $120,000. New homes range from $110,000 to $169,000, depending on the model.

In 1999, after disputing with the community association for four years, developers knocked down the neglected Lochearn Mansion, where Dr. Patterson had tended to America's first Devonshire cattle, and built 14 new homes along Campfield Road.

Worried about an increase in traffic, residents had fought to reduce the number of new homes to 14 from the 20 originally planned. Some residents were upset to see the mansion's old and rusty, wrought-iron fence disappear. Others were worried about water drainage problems. Whatever the reasons, the neighborhood rally was just one demonstration of this small community's collaborative strength.

Nicole Moore, who moved to one of the new homes on Campfield Road with her husband and two sons, likes having such an active neighborhood association and appreciated a warm welcome. "It's nice. It's quiet. And everybody's very friendly here," she said.

Christine Cypress, president of the Lochearn Improvement Association, worries that nonresidents have a negative perception of the neighborhood she has lived in for the past 25 years.

"We get a lot of bad press for things that happen in places that are not Lochearn, but people think are Lochearn," she says, telling stories of organized pit bull fights and a bank robbery in neighboring communities.

Lochearn is delineated on the south by Liberty Road and on the north by Laurel Drive. Campfield Road and Oak Avenue line its western and eastern borders.

Citizens on Patrol works with the local police precinct to make Lochearn a safe community. "This neighborhood is 95 percent crime free," Cypress said. "When we did have episodes, the community took care of them."

Typically, 25 people attend association meetings. However, when residents feel their neighborhood's tranquillity being threatened, they show up in droves.

"It is a very diverse neighborhood," Cypress said. "Everyone gets along. We try to get to know our neighbors."

The Lochearn Improvement Association does have an agenda, and this year its goal is educating the community about county code violations.

"Most people violate county codes because they don't know them," Cypress said. So the association publishes a code in each of its quarterly newsletters, reminding residents that they must take care to keep lids on their trash cans and cut their lawns.

If residents should forget, the association sends out a letter before the county has a chance to fine them.

"I hope to let people know that we're not picking on them," Cypress said. "We're just trying to make it a nice place to live."

In addition to keeping up with Lochearn lawns, the association tries to keep up with the progress of the neighborhood children. Each year the association gives away a $500 college scholarship to one Lochearn resident. It is working on getting grants and matching funds to raise the amount to at least $1,000.

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