When David Plihal and his wife, Allie, looked for a place to settle down, they found themselves house hunting in the suburban neighborhood where they both lived as children.
Stonegate, a development in northern Silver Spring, offered many of the attributes they were looking for: defined borders, an active citizens association and activities for kids and adults that made for a strong sense of community.
Plihal’s parents moved to the neighborhood when he was a teen, and his wife grew up there. She was excited to move back home, and soon, he was convinced, too. They bought a home in Stonegate in 1998.
“It’s not Mayberry — I’m not going to say that,” said Plihal, 56, an art director for a national nonprofit. “But we all wave to each other as we drive by. We stop to chat when we get the mail. If we see a dog with no leash, we call the dog’s owner, because everyone knows whose dog it is. We truly know each other and care about each other.”
Rural remnants: Plihal said Stonegate was surrounded mostly by farmland when it was first developed more than four decades ago.
Residents enjoy the remaining touches of rural life nearby, Plihal said.
“There are farm markets that sell local fruits and vegetables produced by local farms, and a lot of kids from the area work there in the summer,” Plihal said.
Twelve builders developed the neighborhood, which includes everything from starter to luxury homes, according to Sue Heyman, an agent with Weichert who lived in Stonegate for 30 years before moving to nearby Leisure World.
“Having different builders afforded a huge difference in price range,” Heyman said.
That means that a diverse array of residents call the neighborhood home, said Plihal.
“We have craftsmen, blue-collar workers, people who commute into Washington and Baltimore, and every kind of race and ethnicity you can imagine,” Plihal said. “You meet the most interesting people here.”
Living there: Stonegate is roughly bounded by Silverstone Drive and Farmgate Lane to the north; New Hampshire Avenue to the east; Northwest Branch Park to the west; and Bonifant Road to the south. That includes not only Stonegate proper, but a few smaller subdivisions, all of which are represented by the Stonegate Citizens Association.
Colonials and ramblers on large lots dominate the neighborhood’s architecture.
In the past 12 months, 32 homes sold, from $367,500 for a four-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom Colonial to $665,000 for a four-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom Colonial, according to Heyman. Twelve homes are on the market, from $460,200 for a five-bedroom, three-bathroom Colonial to $650,000 for a five-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom house. One home is under contract, a four-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom Colonial listed at $599,000.
Swim team and Ben’s Run: The Stonegate Citizens Association sponsors a variety of events, including a Fourth of July parade and a Halloween party.
In the summer, the Stonegate Swim Club dominates the social scene, Plihal said.
“The kids in the neighborhood all swim on the swim team, and after swim-team activities, everyone comes down to the pool to share a meal or a drink until the sun goes down,” Plihal said.
In September 2009, an 11-year-old Stonegate boy named Ben Goldfogle died after a six-year battle with leukemia.
In 2011, Ben’s family and neighbors organized the first annual Ben’s Run, a 5K through the neighborhood to memorialize Ben and to raise funds for the oncology and bone marrow transplant units at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, where Ben received treatment. This race starts and ends at Stonegate Elementary School where Ben was a student.
“The Stonegate community came out in droves to support the race,” Plihal said, adding that the event has raised more than $218,000 for Children’s National since its inception.
Schools: Stonegate Elementary, White Oak Middle, Blake High schools.
Crime: Over the past 12 months, there were two robberies, two aggravated assaults and 12 residential burglaries in Stonegate, according to Lucille Baur, a spokeswoman for Mongtomery County police.
Transit: The construction of the Intercounty Connector has made it simple and quick to commute to a variety of locations in Montgomery. Many residents also commute to Washington and Baltimore.
“We’re really halfway between Washington and Baltimore, so if you want to go out at night, you can go either way,” Plihal said. “If you’re commuting, you can easily drive to Glenmont and take the Metro into Washington, which a lot of people do.”
Bus options include Y8 and Y9.
But Plihal says that Stonegate may not be for everybody. “If it’s important to you to be able to walk to a corner store to get a cup of coffee, this isn’t the place for you,” he said.
“You drive wherever you’re going,” he said. “It’s suburban.”
On the other hand, he said, “that’s really the only downside, if you even see that as a downside. It’s a wonderful place to be.”
Amy Reinink is a freelance writer.