Insiders' Guide To Eldersburg

October 07, 2007|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun reporter

Near the crossroads of two state routes lies the unincorporated area named for John Elder, an early settler some 200 years ago.

He wouldn't recognize it anymore: In the fast-growing region of southern Carroll County, Eldersburg has become the home of about 31,800 residents, with businesses and shopping centers along its main roads. But it's got a small-town feel, with a mix of older and newer homes, punctuated by occasional fields -- some sprouting corn, others with signs advising of development to come.

This year, Money Magazine's annual list of Top 100 Best Places to Live ranked Eldersburg as No. 56. It praised the setting, but noted that housing prices put it out of reach for many and that work commutes can be long.

Nevertheless, parents say they can get more house for their money there and enjoy a family-centered lifestyle.

"It's a real family place. When you go to kids' sporting events, there are tons of parents around and there are many coaching," said Ross Dangel, a board member of the Freedom Area Citizens Council, a group that represents area residents. The complaint? Not enough field space.

Businesses parks are springing up, and they include young technology companies that have outgrown their home bases and are moving to offices.

"It's definitely a very dynamic area," said Denise Beaver, deputy director of the Carroll County Department of Economic Development.

The location is 31 miles from Baltimore, three miles from Sykesville and 20 miles from Columbia. That has caught the eye of people who want amenities but seek the relaxed pace associated with living a little farther out.

The housing stock --"We have everything. There are condos, single families, townhouses, and if you want acreage, farmettes," said Shelley Price, an agent with Long & Foster. "It's kind of still a rural area."

The desire for an active and comfortable lifestyle lures families that seek large homes, she said, but 55-and-older communities also are sprouting.

The lion's share of residences are owner-occupied. There are a few rental complexes, though individual homes, townhouses and condos come onto the rental market. Growth is being constrained because of the scarcity of water, but a treatment plant is being constructed.

Crime --Police responding in the Eldersburg area are the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, the Maryland State Police and Sykesville police.

"There's barely any crime," Dangel said. The little that takes place is mostly nuisance crime and crimes of opportunity, he said.

Kids and schools --Parents often say one of the reasons they moved to Eldersburg is for the schools. The area is served by several schools: Eldersburg, Freedom, Carrolltowne, Piney Ridge and Linton Springs elementaries; and Oklahoma Road and Sykesville middles -- all of which outperformed state averages in reading and math.

At the high school level, Century, Liberty and South Carroll high schools serve the area. Their students surpassed the state averages in algebra, biology and government tests.

Shopping --Eldersburg-area shopping runs the gamut, from mom-and-pop establishments to big-box chain stores, many of which draw customers from outside the area.

"Years ago, there weren't a lot of people and a lot of stores, but there are now," said Lisa Castaneda, who has lived in Eldersburg for 11 years and works as the manager of the Second Floor Scrapbook and Rubber Stamp Store.

Ground was recently broken for Main Street Eldersburg, being developed by Black Oak Associates; it will be Maryland's first green-certified center, with passive solar "daylighting" and a rainwater recycling system for its restaurants and shops when completed next year. Carrolltown Center, which has the same owner, is slated for redevelopment.

The Mall in Columbia, Owings Mills Mall and other suburban shopping centers are a short drive away.

Dining in --In the past year, Martin's Food Market expanded, opening a 76,700-square-foot grocery, and the nearby Safeway was redone.

Dining out --There are a few restaurant chains, such as Chili's and Zi Pani, as well as locally owned eateries such as the Harvest Inn and Pap Pap's.

Transportation --People rely on cars, as there is no public mass transit in Eldersburg. The Owings Mills metro station is a short eastbound drive down Route 26.

Carroll County Regional Airport can accommodate corporate jets.

Recreation/outdoors --For mini-golf buffs and those looking to practice their swing before hitting the 18-hole courses in the region, a miniature golf and driving range center is nearby. Both Piney Run Park, with its nature center and reservoir, and Patapsco Valley State Park are nearby. Liberty Reservoir, with its boat ramp, lies just to the east.

Nightlife --There is a movie theater at the Carrolltown Center and a community theater group. Nightlife is a challenge and generally involves going elsewhere.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

ELDERSBURG BY THE NUMBERS

ZIP Code

-- 21784

Homes on the market

-- 77

Average sale price

-- $415,926*

Average days on the market-- 91*[*Information based on sales during the past 12 months, complied by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.]

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