When Stephanie Pasternak sets out on her runs through Franklin Manor in the stillness of the early morning, her senses are awakened to the mysterious richness of the seasons.
“I love hearing the sound of the bay,” said Pasternak, whose route takes her along the Chesapeake Bay in the private community in southern Anne Arundel County, Md., where she lives with her husband and their two children.
“Some days, if it is stormy, I can hear the bay a block away, she said. “I will stop and watch the snow fall in the bay. I also look up at the stars because you can see so many more out there. Of course, all that serenity is ruined when I get on the Beltway,” which she uses to commute to her job as a special-education teacher in Silver Spring.
The 1,700-square-foot house she and her husband purchased for $275,000 sits on nearly a quarter-acre and includes four bedrooms and a garage that’s a perfect fit for her Honda Civic. “I lovingly refer to our house as cozy,” said Pasternak, 45
Two fishing piers and waterfront park: Nestled on a marshy peninsula near Herring Bay, Franklin Manor is a private community composed of nearly 600 single-family homes. The development, 20 miles south of Annapolis and 30 miles east of the District, offers an array of moderately priced dwellings, including brick ranchers, split-levels and bungalows. There’s a collection of high-end units dotting the shoreline.
The development features two fishing piers, a swim platform, a playground, a baseball diamond, a picnic pavilion and a mile-long waterfront park.
Franklin Manor is designated a Special Community Benefit District. Homeowners are required to pay an additional tax, administered by the county, that funds maintenance on community-owned property. Community activities include a crab feast, a Halloween parade and party, an annual plant exchange and a combination open house and blessing of the fleet.
“We moved here from Bethesda so we could afford a house to start a family,” said Brendon Bowers, 49, Pasternak’s husband. “I love the horse farms, trees and water scenes. I loved Bethesda, too, but it was better when we were single and rented.”
Franklin Manor traces its founding to the 17th century, when the Franklin family was awarded the peninsula as part of a land grant, according to information compiled by the Franklin Manor Citizens Association. At the time, the name Franklin Manor was used only for agricultural purposes. The association’s account speaks of British naval ships mooring in the bay, close to what is today the community park, to buy poultry and vegetables from the owners.
In a semirural location close to the Calvert County line, Franklin Manor offers a trove of pizza shops, liquor stores and marine supply outlets, along with a tiny coffee shop. The lone grocery store, Christopher’s, is close by. Reaching big-box retail centers involves driving to Edgewater and Annapolis.
Chalk drawings in driveway: Against an expansive view of the estuary’s hues, Tara Mastro walked her dog along Chesapeake Avenue. The neighborhood, she said, makes her feel “like we have our own little resort. It’s definitely off the beaten path.”
Mastro said she moved to her split-foyer house from Silver Spring a dozen years ago. “I wanted to be able to have a larger home for a more affordable price,” she said. Her four-bedroom house cost $350,000. “It was in bad shape,” she recalled. “We had to replace the floors, lighting and the sliding glass door,” said Mastro, a respiratory therapist.
Living in sync with the rhythms of marine life makes the long daily commute to his job in the District tolerable, said Steve Schaeberle, 36, a NASA contractor and president of the community association’s board of directors. From his front step, he spies blue herons “poking in the water and finding dinner.”
Schaeberle, who moved to the neighborhood in 2012 from Baltimore County and bought a house for $350,000, also draws comfort from his neighbors, a mix of white-collar and blue-collar workers. “They often leave personal notes on our doorstep,” he said. “And we even have young artists that welcome us home by leaving sunny, colorful chalk drawings in our driveway.”
In a community where lots of residents own kayaks or bikes, Schaeberle, spellbound by his surroundings, said he’s staying put. “If you can slow your brain down after you get home,” he said, “you walk to the pier and sit out there for five or 10 minutes and you remind yourself that’s why you’re here.”
Living there: Franklin Manor is bordered roughly by Gwynne Avenue, the development’s “Main Street,” on the north, Franklin Boulevard on the east, Chesapeake Drive on the south and Carvel Street on the west. During the past 12 months, 32 homes have been sold in Franklin Manor, ranging from $134,900 to $524,900, with an average of 135 days on the market, said Greg Cocimano, an agent with Re/Max 100 in Dunkirk. There are 10 active listings; 10 properties are under contracts, at prices ranging from $148,000 for a three-bedroom, one-bath rancher to $1.275 million for a six-bedroom, five-bath traditional.
Schools: Shady Side and Tracey’s elementaries, Southern Middle and Southern High.
Transit: The Maryland Transportation Administration offers commuter bus service from the area into the District. There are also several Metro stations in nearby Prince George’s County.
Crime: During the past six months, there has been one assault, one attempted breaking and entering and one auto theft in Franklin Manor, said Lt. Ryan Frashure, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Police Department.