Parkton: savoring the rural flavor

NEIGHBORHOOD PROFILE

Homes and barns blend into fields and forests while property values rise

August 04, 2002|By Liz Steinberg | Liz Steinberg,SUN STAFF

As one drives north from Baltimore on Interstate 83, the thick traffic thins and rolling hills and forested slopes approach.

The road curves through the greenery, which predominates in spite of developments that have been popping up in rural northern Baltimore County.

In Parkton, minutes from the Pennsylvania border, street-side mailboxes, fenced-in yards and red barns line two-lane highways. Homes, finished with brick and aluminum siding, mingle with cornfields.

Parkton's easy access to I-83 is attractive to commuters. Many of the residents say their families have been in the area for years.

The handful of new developments haven't diluted the rural flavor, either.

In Winnie Stickles' Shear Country Hair Salon, signs taped to the front desk advertise Currey's Excavating - bulldozer services - and a 4-H fair.

"We've been here since my mom was a little girl," Stickles said of her family.

Stickles, 37, lives on 3 acres of the family's 100-acre farm, where she and her sisters built their homes. Now, a total of five houses sit on what was once her grandfather's farm: the original farmhouse, her mother's house, her aunt's house, her sister's house and her house. "My mom lives on the top of the driveway," she said.

When her 3-year-old daughter is older, she'll probably bike to her grandmother's house and go swimming in her pool, Stickles said.

`The Parkton Mall'

Shear Country shares a building with Wally's Country Store, which sells Citgo gasoline. The complex sits on the highest point in Baltimore County, said Wally's owner, Janet Wiser.

"We call this the Parkton Mall," said Wiser. She and her husband, Richard, bought and renovated the store in 1998.

Now 41, she moved to Parkton at age 6.

"It's a very relaxed area," Wiser said. "The other day I was driving down the road and a calf was being born."

Many of her high school classmates have returned after moving away, she said.

Residents range from farmers to yuppies, Wiser said.

Home values have nearly doubled in the past four years, said Karen Diehl, an associate broker at Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.'s Hunt Valley office.

"You can't buy anything up there that's worth anything for under $200,000," she said. New homes on larger properties can sell for $400,000 to $1 million.

Many of the older homes are ranchers and Colonials. In the new developments, the homes are Colonials, Diehl said.

Diehl built her home on 10 acres that she purchased for $85,000 in 1998. Now, comparable parcels sell for $200,000 to $250,000, she said.

"The only reason people move from that area is because they may be retiring to another area," Diehl said.

Parkton has few commercial developments and is mostly zoned for agriculture or residences.

Residents drive to Hunt Valley or Shrewsbury, Pa., to shop. Towson Town Center is 15 minutes away.

Leaning on the Mason-Dixon Line in the north end of Baltimore County, the Parkton area includes several small towns, such as Rayville and Middletown. It also contains parts of Gunpowder Falls State Park and Prettyboy Reservoir. Gunpowder Falls State Park Trail stretches north into Pennsylvania.

Scarce nightlife

The nightlife is limited to a handful of bars.

The area offers a good mix of scenery, fresh air, services and recreational programs, said Wayne Pachol, who has lived in his Parkton ranch home with his wife and children for four years. He is an insurance consultant working out of his home.

Pachol said he enjoys the facilities available at Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center Inc.

"I'm five minutes from home and I'm getting a golf lesson," he said.

The schools are good. Hereford High School has the highest SAT scores in the county, said Principal John Bereska.

"It's peaceful around here. No one causes any trouble. As far as that stays, then I'll stay," said Crystal Turner, 20, who works at Wally's and rents a home with her husband. Turner has lived in Parkton her entire life.

Parkton

ZIP codes: 21120, 21105

Commute to downtown Baltimore:35 minutes

Public schools: Hereford High, Hereford Middle, Prettyboy Elementary

Shopping: Hereford Shopping Center, Hereford Plaza, Hunt Valley Mall

Homes on market: 16

Average days on market: 84*

Average listing price: $250,202*

Average sale price: $242,857*

Sale price as percentage of listing price: 97.06%**Based on 47 sales during the past 12 months, compiled by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.

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