Shel Kelley became animated when ticking off a list of reasons she loves living in the River Hill neighborhood in Howard County, Md.: easy access to major roadways, myriad shopping options, and plenty of green space and trails for hiking and biking.

But it’s really the people who set River Hill apart from other communities, said Kelley, who moved to the neighborhood in 1995.

By way of example, she recounted a drive she took about a decade ago with her husband, Paul, who at the time was being treated for melanoma.

The couple had to drive 35 minutes from their home in River Hill to a hospice facility in Baltimore County, Kelley said. During the drive, her husband made an off-handed comment that really stuck with Kelley.

“Paul turned to me and implored me to open a facility closer to River Hill.”

She didn’t think much about the exchange until after her husband died in 2009 of complications from his cancer.

A few years after Paul’s death, a hospice facility opened near her home in River Hill.

While she didn’t have a hand in bringing the hospice facility to River Hill, Kelley said that over the years, she and her neighbors have raised more than $250,000 in donations that have helped support the facility. The fundraisers have grown from small affairs held in her living room to much larger gatherings.

“We’ve been doing the fundraisers for 10 years, and it shows what can happen when you have a strong community,” said Kelley, who lives in a 4,000-square-foot, five-bedroom, four-bedroom Colonial. “The people in River Hill really support each other, and it makes us all stronger.”


Village center concept: The last of the westernmost developments in Columbia, River Hill was built in the early 1990s and includes nearly 1,800 acres, about half of which serves as dedicated open space, said Terri Westerlund, a real estate agent with Le Reve Real Estate.

The community, about halfway between Baltimore and the District, is home to a large athletic complex and is built around a village center concept that includes a mix of shopping options, Westerlund said.

“People really love River Hill,” she said. “Most people don’t leave until their kids are gone. There’s just not a lot of turnover.”

Clarissa Murphy has lived in River Hill for 18 years — the first 14 in a single-family house until she decided to downsize to a townhouse. The idea of leaving the neighborhood, she said, never crossed her mind.

Why would it, she asked. She liked the public schools and was also fond of her neighbors, who, during a blizzard in 2004, decided to continue with plans for a community potluck.

“There were 60 pairs of boots in our laundry room. People weren’t going to let the snow stop a good time,” she said.

Jeff Carlson, who has lived in a 2,200-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bathroom Colonial in River Hill for 10 years, is a long-distance runner who’s clocked hundreds of miles through the neighborhood’s system of trails. He said he enjoys the fact that River Hill feels like a secluded suburban enclave but is close enough to various entertainment attractions.

“I’m 25 minutes from Camden Yards, 40 minutes from Capital One Arena and I can be on Interstate 95 in 10 minutes. I have access to major conveniences with the benefit of living in what feels like a small town.”


The last of the westernmost developments in Columbia, River Hill was built in the early 1990s and includes nearly 1,800 acres, about half of which serves as dedicated open space, said Terri Westerlund, a real estate agent with Le Reve Real Estate. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Living there: River Hill is bounded to the northwest by Clarksville Pike, to the southwest by the Patuxent Freeway and to the east by the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area.

In the past 12 months, 88 properties have sold in River Hill, ranging from a 1,309-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom condominium for $313,000 to a 4,379-square-foot, five-bedroom, five-bathroom Colonial for $974,900, said Westerlund, the real estate agent.

There are 10 homes for sale in River Hill, with prices ranging from $658,000 to $950,000. There are 10 homes under contract in the neighborhood, according to Westerlund.

Schools: Pointers Run Elementary, Clarksville Middle and Atholton High.

Crime: There have been no violent crimes reported in the past six months in River Hill, according to Howard County police.