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Where rural feels just right

Special to the Sun

Most people know Finksburg as a pass-through on their trek between Baltimore and Westminster.

But what many travelers don't know is that just beyond the unofficial town center, found at the intersection of Routes 140 and 91, are numerous neighborhoods nestled among rolling hills, forests and stream valleys.

"It's a growing community that's still trying to maintain its rural character," said Dave O'Callaghan, president of the Finksburg Planning and Citizens' Council. "It's a great place to raise a family with lots to do."

The area is named after Adam Fink, who operated a tavern and toll road in the early 1800s for travelers, said Timmi Pierce, executive director of the Historical Society of Carroll County.

Today it serves as a gateway to Carroll County from Baltimore County, with the Patapsco River and Liberty Reservoir separating the two.

The rural character of the area is in part due to its dependence on wells and septic tanks, something that requires larger building lots and discourages most commercial uses except along the Route 140 corridor. Part of Finksburg is tucked along the northern edges of the reservoir, giving it a woodsy, secluded feel.

O'Callaghan, who has lived in Finksburg for 20 years, said his neighborhood is one that benefits from the scenic open space.

"I live in a fantastic place," he says. "I sit there and I border the Liberty watershed with fantastic views and lovely neighbors."

Finksburg residents are eagerly awaiting the opening of their new library. Construction on the 15,000-square-foot facility began last August with a planned opening date of late 2008.

Housing stock // Just about any type of single-family house can be found in Finksburg, including ranchers, split-levels, Colonials and historic houses. Prices vary greatly, starting in the low $200,000s and going up to more than $1 million. Horse farms, dairy farms and other agricultural uses also can be found here.

"You have a lot of neighborhoods in Finksburg, which is nice," said Carol Swinton of Long & Foster Real Estate in Eldersburg. "People like that it's rural and not very congested." Swinton, a Finksburg resident, said the community's proximity to Interstate 795 and to Westminster make it an easy commute.

Rentals // There are no condominiums or townhouses in Finksburg. The only rentals are single-family homes that can fetch about $1,300 a month.

Crime // Because Finksburg is an unincorporated town with no police force of its own, exact crime statistics are hard to come by even from the Maryland State Police, which has jurisdiction.

In January, a murder at a local video store was recorded, but according to Sgt. Arthur Betts, a public information officer with the Maryland State Police, Carroll County generally is quiet when it comes to crime.

"Most find it to be a very safe county to live in, Finksburg included," said Betts. "In Finksburg, it's generally minor crimes that would occur."

Schools // Several public schools serve Finksburg, but the majority of students go to Sandymount or Mechanicsville elementary schools; Shiloh or Westminster West middle schools; and Westminster High School. All of the schools scored above state levels for reading and mathematics for the Maryland School Assessments.

Finksburg is home to the Gerstell Academy, a private co-educational school for students pre-kindergarten through eigthth grade. Each year the school is adding another grade until students are enrolled through 12th grade.

Shopping // Finksburg Plaza and the busy Route 140 corridor offer several shops and services, but residents looking for a mall can head south to Owings Mills Mall or north to Town Mall of Westminster.

Transportation // There is no Maryland Transit Administration service in Carroll County, however Finksburg is a short drive to the Metro in Owings Mills. The Carroll Area Transit System offers residents bus service throughout the county.

Dining in // The closest option is the Gateway Community Market at Finksburg Plaza.

Dining out // Although residents were sad to see their beloved Rudys' 2900 close, there are still several dining options, including Belisimo's Restaurant, which opened at the former Rudys' spot, and nearby casual food restaurants serving pizza and barbecue.

Nightlife // There's not a big club scene in Finksburg, but it's close to the bars and restaurants in Owings Mills and Westminster. For the quieter night out, Twin Kiss offers shakes, ice cream and other tasty desserts.

Recreation // Finksburg is home to the public, 18-hole Francis Scott Key Golf Club at River Downs. Liberty Reservoir offers trails for hiking and horseback riding as well as boating. Other recreational opportunities exist within a short drive, including the new indoor ice rink and soccer facility at Reisterstown Regional Park and Mitchell's Golf Complex, both in Baltimore County.

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