Even amid growth, Harford provides a small-town feel

October 27, 2002|By Lisa Wiseman | Lisa Wiseman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

To some, it's "cow country." To others, it's a paradise where "city problems" don't exist. For the thousands who live in quiet communities nestled between the booming population centers of Bel Air and Aberdeen, much of Harford County still retains a small-town feel.

Long-established communities

Abingdon is one of the oldest towns in Harford County, having been laid out by the Paca family in 1779. In addition to being the site of Cokesbury College, the first Methodist College in America, Abingdon also lays claim to being the home of the first newspaper published in the county, the Abingdon Patriot.

Joppatowne, near the Gunpowder River, was once a booming seaport where ships from Europe and the West Indies brought their cargo. Once known as "old gunpowder town," Joppatowne became a community through industry, primarily tobacco. Large shipments of tobacco gave rise to the famous "rolling roads," which extended from the tobacco fields of northern Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Joppatowne has experienced a good deal of change and development. With its proximity to White Marsh and Nottingham in Baltimore County, Joppatowne has slowly evolved into a modern community with new homes, three schools, a library and new shopping centers. The water is still vital to the area, but it is almost purely for recreational purposes, with several marinas and public and private boat launching and docking facilities.

Harford County also is focusing on reviving areas such as Edgewood, located along the county's "rust belt" of U.S. 40. Instead of building new housing, the county is trying to follow a controlled-growth strategy in revitalizing existing older neighborhoods.

Top of the market

In Fallston, residents make nearly twice the national average in median household income, and 69 percent of people there are employed in white-collar occupations, compared with 46 percent nationwide.

When Forest Hill Elementary School opened, it was over capacity on day one. And it's no wonder. Nearly 85 percent of all residents in this suburban community live in homes with children. Nationwide, the number is 72 percent. And while nationwide, people have an average of 2.6 children, in Forest Hill, the number is 2.9.

Although Jarrettsville is somewhat rural, residents there significantly outspend the rest of America on average in categories such as education, entertainment, transportation and retail. More than a third of the residents are college-educated.

Another rural area is Darlington, home of the Conowingo Dam. The building of the dam in 1928 added to the welfare of the community as many engineers and executives have made their homes in the neighborhood. The town also draws thousands from all over the state and from nearby Pennsylvania for its annual fall apple festival and craft show.

Conveniently located off Exit 80

In addition to its geographic convenience, Belcamp is one of the fastest-growing communities in the county. The community will soon expand to include new properties such as the Village of Grey's Run on Old Philadelphia Road.

Not only did the Riverside Community Association win the Community Association of the Year award for its chapter in 1997, it is the only planned com- munity in Harford County, consisting of about 2,100 units. The area is also home to the Riverside Business Park, one of the largest business/industrial parks in Harford County, and to General Electric, Mercedes-Benz, McCormick's Spice Co., Michelin Tire Co. and others.

Residents of Churchville enjoy an easy commute to major suburbs like Bel Air and to the interstate, along with a reasonably rural feel.

Farm country

There are still many rural areas in the northern part of the county to be found for those seeking a slower pace of life. Communities such as Dublin, Cardiff, Whiteford, Pylesville and Norrisville have their share of transplanted suburbanites -- enough to support comforts like a corner carryout, video store or dry cleaners. But many of those suburbanites have cornfields and cows for neighbors.

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