“They’re contemporary designs. They’re not your Williamsburg Colonial,” said Geneveive Kelley, who moved to the neighborhood in 2003 with her husband, Steve, and three children. “Not that we were looking for contemporary — but it was fine with us,” she said.
One of the most popular features of Flints Grove homes is their skylights. “I love the skylights,” said former homeowner association president Lakshman Ramamurthy, who moved to the neighborhood in 2009 with his wife, Subha, and his two children.
Every home has at least one skylight, and many have them in both the master bathrooms and stairwells. Owners mention them as among the first things that attracted them to the homes.
Other popular features are the soaring cathedral ceilings, sunrooms and the ground-floor master bedrooms.
“We saw this with the first-floor master bedroom and that was it,” said Paula Fox of her home, purchased in 1990.
“I never lived in a house with a first-floor master bedroom,” said Fox’s husband, Paul Boylin. After marrying Fox and moving to the neighborhood in the early 2000s, he quickly warmed to the floor plan. “This is pretty cool — I like this,” he said of having the master bedroom on the ground level. “We live basically on one floor. It’s like living in a [one-story] condo that’s a house,” he said. The additional three bedrooms are upstairs, and a full finished basement provides extra storage and a freezer room downstairs.
Probably the most important factor for residents with children is the school district. Neighbors mention their desire to live within the Thomas S. Wootton Cluster, which includes DuFief Elementary, Robert Frost Middle School and Thomas S. Wootton High School.
“We had young kids, and this is in the Wootton school district,” said Kelley.
When she and her husband were looking for a house in 2003, “it was really busy and houses were flying off the market,” said Kelley. “We just couldn’t find a house.” Then her agent, Roger Carp of Long and Foster, sent them an online listing. Kelley said that after sending Steve Kelley’s mother-in-law, who lived in Maryland, to look at the house, “we bought it sight unseen. We made an offer over the phone.”
They saw the house only after the contract was ratified and had no regrets. “It was everything we wanted,” said Kelley. “Good school district, very suburban, good roads, good neighborhood.” Even the home design was appealing. Having a master bedroom on the ground level gives older residents peace of mind.
Another strong draw of the neighborhood is its proximity to local employers such as Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, as well as all of the high-technology companies along the I-270 corridor.
For commuting, some residents take the Montgomery County Ride On bus to the Shady Grove Metro station. However, most residents say they drive, often using I-270, the Beltway or Maryland’s Intercounty Connector. “The ICC has been phenomenal. There’s no traffic. Of course you have to pay, but it’s a very nice new highway,” said Ramamurthy.
The Flints Grove neighborhood itself is nestled against a large swath of woodland where the Muddy Branch and Rich Branch streams flow along its west and south sides. The woods provide a rich habitat for wildlife, including deer who regularly visit yards. In fact, residents say, there is so much wildlife that they have to watch out for their flowers and gardens.
Trails through the woods allow opportunities for strolling and dog-walking around the neighborhood or farther. Residents can easily reach the Muddy Branch Greenway Trail, Montgomery County’s newest natural-surface trail, spanning nine miles from Route 28 to the C&O Canal.
The homeowners association meets regularly to address issues such as tree maintenance, soil erosion and maintenance of common areas. Projects of recent years have included restoring the community’s basketball court as well as expanding the former tot lot into the Andy Winters Playground, named in memory of a former neighbor.
One of the newest neighborhood projects is speeding control along Flints Grove Lane. “The speed humps were put in this spring,” said Fox. “This is just enough to discourage cutting through” by commuter traffic, Fox said.
The homeowners’ association has also done a lot of tree trimming lately, which is necessary in a neighborhood that has many mature trees.
Homeowners’ fees for the single-family homes are $318 a year (townhouse owners pay slightly more to cover lawn maintenance). This fee covers such things as maintenance of the public areas, the tot lot, tree removal and walking paths.
The association also organizes regular community events, including a summer ice cream social with a moon bounce, held at the playground, and a community yard sale in the fall.
Susan Straight is a freelance writer.