When Sarah Roogow was a teacher in Baltimore City public schools, her goal was to be within 15 minutes of home, but with a Howard County address.
So in 2007, Roogow along with her husband, Dave, set their sights on a five-bedroom, five-bath house in Patapsco Ridge, a quiet neighborhood of 45 single-family homes in Hanover, Md. "We paid $430,000 or $440,000 for a foreclosure," said Sarah, 35, a mother of three. "The previous owner put on a big addition."
Residents of the community, which opened in the mid-1990s, grapple with an identity quirk of sorts. Although Patapsco Ridge is nestled along the west side of the railroad tracks in Howard County and within a five-minute drive of the Elkridge business district, its Zip code reflects an Anne Arundel County location.
"We don't get the Howard Community College course catalogue," Sarah Roogow said. "We get the Anne Arundel Community College catalogue. When I think of Arundel Mills, I think of Anne Arundel County."
Staying in a county that holds good memories is important, said Dave Roogow, 39. "I grew up in Howard County, in Ellicott City. It's familiar to me. We want to stay in Howard County." He added that he is fine with having a Hanover address as long as it's the jurisdiction of his choice, where his taxes are collected and spent.
As Sarah Roogow stood to clear the lunch plates from the picnic table at her neighbor's place, she echoed the feelings of another resident, Brian Carnahan, about Patapsco Ridge and why it's special: "We have fun," she said. "We're all hanging out together all the time. Our kids walk in and out of each other's houses."
Connectedness, palm trees: Corey Bullock might not have it quite so easy, but he's not complaining, he said. "I'm about 15 minutes from my job in Annapolis Junction," northeast of Laurel, Md. As for his surroundings, Bullock, 48, said it was exactly what he and his wife were looking for when they moved there in 2004. "It's very quiet, very diverse, with great schools," he said. "When I moved here, I was looking for a sense of connectedness. That was the No. 1 priority."
Nestled along a winding road framed by thick woods and yard signs that remind motorists to "Drive Like Your Kids Live Here," Patuxent Quarter Road provides glimpses of typical suburban life. The front yard of one residence features a collection of small palm trees overlooking a circle of large seashells that give it the look of a tropical island. Adjacent subdivisions include Hanover's Grant and Hanover Woods.
During the warm months, residents enjoy meeting friends at Cindy's Soft-Serve, an iconic ice cream stand. To the north, Washington Boulevard offers an offbeat spot: Daniels, a tavern that features alfresco bar stools and is a magnet for motorcyclists.
Carnahan laughed as he recalled how he found Patapsco Ridge and a four-bedroom Colonial he shares with his wife and their 8-year-old son. "I was concerned about the noise from the trains," said Carnahan, who works in information technology at Johns Hopkins Hospital's Harbor East campus in Baltimore. "But little did I know about the planes" from Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport that fly overhead. "They're only over our house once a month if they need to reroute because of storms."
When Carnahan lived in Halethorpe, in nearby Baltimore County, there was a sense of community there, too, particularly when it came to interacting with his next-door neighbors. When he was driving around looking for new digs for his wife and their young son, "I saw a man outside washing his car."
When Carnahan stopped to pepper him with questions about the community, he said he received an upbeat and warm reception.
What's nearby: Hanover, a major employment center, is home to satellite offices of the National Security Agency. Arundel Mills, which opened in 2000, is the largest retail complex in Maryland. The mall also is the home of Maryland Live casino, one of six casinos operating in the state. A 17-story, 310-room hotel at the casino is set to open in 2018.
Nearby is Patuxent Valley State Park, whose main attraction is Thomas Viaduct, said to be the oldest multiple-arch stone curved railroad bridge in the world.
Living there: Patapsco Ridge is bounded by Hanover Road to the west, Mill River Court to the south, Hanover Crossing Way and Patuxent Quarter Road to the east and Fairbourne Court to the north.
In the past 12 months, four properties have sold in Patapsco Ridge, ranging from a 1,232- square-foot split-foyer for $395,000 to a five-bedroom rancher for $535,000, said Martha Lopez Elkind, an agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties in Bethesda. There are no homes on the market, she added.
Schools: Elkridge Elementary, Elkridge Landing Middle and Howard High.
Transit: MARC Camden Line service runs to Baltimore and the District's Union Station from nearby stations, including Halethorpe. In addition, Metrobus service to Greenbelt is offered weekdays from BWI. The state also operates a bus route between BWI and Gaithersburg Park and Ride.
Crime: In the past six months, there were three reported thefts in Patapso Ridge, according to the Howard County police.