Poolesville is a gem in a haystack. The four-square-mile town of 5,400 people sits smack in the center of Montgomery County’s 93,000-acre Agricultural Reserve. Thirty miles from the District, you’re in the country, surrounded by russet fields and barns, pastures, orchards, farmland, and open space.

Poolesville residents love it. “Anyone who lives here is an advocate of small-town living and the small-town flavor that has stayed all these years,” said Allan Stypeck, who moved there with his wife, Kim, in 1991 after they married.

The Stypecks bought the old Elgin farmhouse, which was built around 1760 and situated on two acres with a barn and couple of outbuildings. The house was originally one room but had been continually expanded.

“We lived on a farm surrounded by 180 acres of farmland with llamas, goats and turkey vultures that nest on our property every year. There was a moratorium on development on that farmland that we knew would one day be lifted,” said Stypeck, owner of Second Story Books. “Eventually it started to develop but we decided to stay. We knew we could never live in that kind of privacy anywhere else.”

“As long as the town acts responsibly by implementing incremental growth, I have no issue, knowing the town will get up to the full allowance of growth,” he said. “The big issue is accelerated growth. I don’t want the town to get overbuilt overnight because the resources won’t be able to absorb it. I don’t want the small-town rhythm to be disrupted.”

“Infrastructure and the town assets have to be taken into consideration because we don’t want to see our lifestyle change,” he added.


Improving infrastructure: Jim Brown, president of the town commissioners, said the town spends a lot of time, talk and money on infrastructure improvements. “We recognize if we don’t pay for it now, we’ll pay more later. We’re using a lot of technology to be sure our infrastructure is good for the next 50 years,” he said.

Storm-water management ponds have been built across town “to limit the amount of water we treat and get it to flow into ponds,” he said. Ponds are then stocked for fishing.

Sidewalks have been put in across town “to increase connectivity from one end of town to the other,” he added.

So far, growth has been achieved carefully. Under consideration for development are 13 acres owned by a third-generation Poolesville family. The land is in the town center adjacent to Whalen Park and Town Hall, and its development will generate discussions.

Ten neighborhoods lay in roughly concentric circles around the town center. Developed at different times over the past 40 years, each has a distinctive feel but all have sidewalks, trees and a park. Most of the houses are Colonials, with and without basements, on one-third-acre or larger lots. There are also California contemporaries akin to “Mad Men”-era style, older townhouses, and new ones being built. Homeowner association fees exist only for townhouses.

“Poolesville is the only town in Montgomery County where a child can go from kindergarten to 12th grade and never leave town limits,” said Franklin A. Jamison, a broker and land consultant who considers it “the center of the universe.”

“Kids can always walk or bike to school,” said Brown. “Real estate agents tell parents, ‘You don’t have to buy your kid a car.’”


Julia Charbonneau, 7, flies a kite with her father and sister at Whalen Commons. (Amanda Voisard/For the Washington Post)

What’s nearby: “The one hole in our game is a grocery store,” said Brown. A third of Dollar General’s products are groceries. Harris Teeter, in Darnestown, is seven miles away. In town there’s a pool and a community garden. Close by are vineyards, orchards, Dickerson Conservation Park, conservation land and a shooting range owned by the Izaak Walton League, the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area, Seneca Schoolhouse Museum, Sugarloaf Mountain and Black Hill Regional Park.

Living there: Poolesville, Zip code 20837, is irregularly shaped and bounded roughly by Jerusalem Road on the north, Jonesville Road on the east, Doris Davies Park on the south and the intersection of Westerly and West Willard roads on the west.

The housing stock varies in age from 40 years to brand-new, said Jamison, president and broker at Charles H. Jamison Real Estate. Eleven properties are for sale, he said, ranging from a three-bedroom, three-bathroom townhouse for $155,0000 to a four-bedroom, five-bathroom single-family house for $887,000. Nine properties are under contract, ranging from a three-bedroom, three-bathroom townhouse for $149,000 to a four-bedroom, three-bathroom single-family house for $599,000. In the past year, 78 homes sold, ranging from a three-bedroom, three-bathroom townhouse for $116,900 to a five-bedroom, five-bathroom single-family home for $886,500.


Pedestrians walk by Bassett’s Fine Food and Spirits in Poolesville. (Amanda Voisard/For the Washington Post)

Schools: Poolesville Elementary, John H. Poole Middle, Poolesville High.

Transit: “People think we’re a bazillion miles away from everything, but that’s not how we feel about it,” said Brown. It’s a relatively easy commute to the District via River Road, and Interstate 270 is not far away. White’s Ferry and Seneca are six miles away; Leesburg, Va., is eight miles away; Gaithersburg is 15 miles away; and Frederick is 24 miles distant.

Crime: According to https:/spotcrime.com/md/Montgomery , there were four burglaries, three assaults and one robbery in the past year.