At 8 one weekday morning, the corner of Retford Drive and Kegworth Court in the Chartridge community of Severna Park, Md., was quiet. No cars coming down the street. No dogs out walking. Just a couple birds overhead.
At 8:01, a car pulled up. A dad swung open the back door and out popped a girl in shorts. Across the street two more cars came to a halt and more children climbed out. A minute later, a gaggle of colorfully attired girls and boys with backpacks jumped up and down with excitement as they told a reporter why they love living there.
Abby Roberts, 9, said, “I like how in summertime there’s a pool and I get to see all my friends.”
Izzy Burleson, 8, said: “I like Wednesdays because we have Wacky Wednesday at the pool. We have relay races and whoever wins gets a prize.”
Her sister, Ava, 9, added, “I like jam night at the pool because a band comes and we get to sing and act.”
A yellow school bus pulled up at 8:05 and interrupted the conversation. Accordion doors opened, children lined up, mounted the steps and in the blink of an eye were gone. Adults waved and returned to their cars and it was quiet again.
This is quintessential Chartridge, a close-knit, kid-centric neighborhood in Anne Arundel County, Md., 45 miles from the District. “We’re really a town within a town,” said Ben Roberts, Abby’s dad and president of the neighborhood’s homeowners association board of directors. Besides Abby, Roberts and his wife, Stephanie, six-year residents, have two other children — Owen, 6, and Nolan, three months.
Most of the 377 single-family, two-story, one-car garage houses were built between 1978 and 1981. Colonials, Dutch Colonials, split-levels and vaulted-ceiling styles predominate. Trees line sidewalks. Pink dogwoods bloom on front lawns. Basketball hoops are common.
Opposing proposed development: Pool season, beginning Memorial Day weekend, is a big part of life. The pool is for residents and their guests and is a benefit of the annual $435 homeowners association fee each household pays.
“On May 27th we’ll have a bike parade starting at the top of Yorkshire Drive and ending at the pool. Kids will decorate their bikes and the little ones will get pulled on wagons,” said Roberts.
The pool complex sits at one end of the common area — five acres of lush grass and field — and a pond is at the other end.
“Our common area is the crown jewel of the community,” said Roberts, adding that it is the gathering spot for much more than swimming. There are open-mic jam nights, food-truck nights, ballplaying and picnicking. “It’s like our own little town center,” he said.
That’s why the Chartridge community, through its homeowners association, is appealing county approval of a sketch plan for a 28-home cluster development adjacent to the neighborhood.
The proposed development would drain to the Chartridge common area and calls for replacing forest with twice as many lots as would be allowed using traditional zoning, said Roberts. Storm water management would be the responsibility of the new homeowners.
“We anticipate new challenges with drainage in our common area that will require expensive maintenance well into the future,” said Rick Smith, vice president of the board and four-year resident with his wife, Stacy, and their children, Ella, Parren and Brady.
The board’s position has strong support from residents and the nearby community. Chartridge residents have been volunteering their professional expertise during the months-long appeals process. “Our lawyer is a resident, another has done countless hours of research and others are building connections across Anne Arundel County,” said Smith.
“This parkland is our pride and joy and one of the reasons this neighborhood is in high demand,” said Roberts.
Shopping: There’s a Safeway at 540 Benfield Rd. and a Giant at 573 Governor Ritchie Hwy., and a Harris Teeter is coming to the Magothy Gateway shopping center at the intersection of Earleigh Heights Road and Governor Ritchie Highway.
Living there: Chartridge, part of Severna Park in Zip code 21146, is bordered by multiple cul-de-sac courts extending from Yorkshire Drive on the north, the common area on the east, Benforest Drive on the south and Jumpers Hole Road on the west. Houses are exclusively single-family.
Carol Fasick-Joyce, a real estate agent with the TTR Sotheby’s International Realty office in Annapolis, said one property is for sale. It’s a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house for $379,995.
Two properties are under contract, ranging from a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house for $355,000 to a four-bedroom, four-bathroom home for $525,000.
In the past year, 19 homes sold, ranging from a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house for $332,000 to a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house for $478,200.
“Sales are trending upwards,” Fasick-Joyce said.
Transit: Chartridge is nine miles from Annapolis, 14 from Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and 22 from Baltimore. Many children have bikes, and some ride to school. Roberts commutes 41 miles to Bethesda. His wife works in Fort Meade, a 17-mile commute. Tom Nagle, a nine-year resident with his wife, Jean, and two daughters, drives to Columbia, about half-hour away.
Schools: Oak Hill Elementary, Severna Park Middle, Severna Park High.
Crime: According to the Anne Arundel County Police Department, there were no reported crimes in the past year.