Waterfront living a draw

Before Joppatowne became known for its comfortable homes, convenience to Interstate 95 and popular waterfront park, it served as a major shipping port during the first half of the 18th century.

Originally known as Gunpowder Town and later as Joppa, the area also operated as the Baltimore County seat from 1712 to 1768, later becoming part of Harford County.


In the early 1960s, the plan for Joppatowne, laid out by developer Leon Panitz as one of the country's first planned communities, combined everything residents would need such as retail, open space, recreation, schools and a mix of housing, according to the Harford County Community Plan for the area.

Today, Joppatowne offers a mix of friendly neighbors, tree-lined streets and waterfront appeal. "There's a lot to like about Joppatowne," said Chris Rohe, chairperson of the Joppa/Joppatowne Community Council. "We're right by the water, so you have a very rural feeling even though you're in an urban setting."


Smaller neighborhoods like Foster Branch, Lohrs Orchard, Magnolia Farms and Rumsey Island help define Joppatowne.

Rumsey Island, a manmade peninsula, offers large waterfront homes as well as smaller single-family houses and townhouses, many sitting on canals with piers and concrete bulkheads. Summer weekends are a lively mix of cookouts, boating and hanging out with neighbors.

"People tend to move here and they don't really move on," said Scott Chilton, president of the Rumsey Island Residents' Association. "Where else can you walk down 75 feet to your bulkhead to your private pier and be within the mouth of the ( Chesapeake Bay) in 15 minutes."

Just about any style home can be found in Joppatowne, many - even waterfronts - are offered at a reasonable price. Large portions of the neighborhood were built in the 1970s with ranchers, split-levels and Colonials throughout.

"It's a wonderful area with a lot of families," said Peggy Smith, with the Harford County Regional Office of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. "The majority of people who live in Joppatowne appreciate the beauty of the water close by. It's a definite selling feature for them."

Many of the older homes have been remodeled and new housing is mixed in, such as Ally's Meadow, a single-family housing development under construction. Waterfront townhouses in the Rumsey Island neighborhood can start in the $300,000 range, making them a popular choice.

A handful of apartment complexes are located in Joppatowne, some even featuring waterfront views.

During the last six months, the most common crimes in the Joppatowne ZIP code were thefts, burglaries and assaults.

Plans are underway for the development of a new Southern Precinct at the corner of routes 152 and 40 located between Edgewood and Joppatowne. Residents say Joppatowne is a relatively quiet neighborhood with most crime occurring along the Route 40 corridor and north. They say strong community associations help keep the area safe.

The three elementary schools serving Joppatowne include Magnolia Elementary, Joppatowne Elementary and Riverside Elementary. All three scored high marks on the Maryland State Assessments. From there students attend Magnolia Middle School and Joppatowne High School both measured state assessment scores above state averages in 2007, according to online data. The high school was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 1998.

Joppatowne is easily accessible by I-95 and U.S. Route 40 and State Route 7. Bus service is readily available, as is MARC service to Baltimore and Washington from the train station in Edgewood.

Mariner Point Park features a 38-acre waterfront park with a boat launch, kayak launch, nature trails, playground, fishing piers and picnicking areas. Joppatowne is also home to Robert Copenhaver Park, with baseball and softball diamonds, a football field, picnic areas, fishing and walking trails. Smaller parks are located throughout.


Joppatowne is home to high-end discount retailer C-Mart, which offers serious savings in designer clothing, shoes, accessories and home goods. But if shoppers can't find what they're looking for there, it's an easy trek to Harford Mall. White Marsh Mall and the Avenue at White Marsh are also close by and several specialty businesses line Route 40.

Located in Joppatowne Plaza, Redner's Warehouse Market is the closest choice for Joppatowne residents. There's also a Mars Supermarket north on Route 40.

The neighborhood hot spot is a family-owned Italian restaurant called Sapore Di Mare, located in the heart of Joppatowne. Residents can also find a diverse selection of food only minutes away including wings, subs, pizza, Italian ice, Chinese food and crab houses. Baldwin's Seafood Restaurant & Lounge is a popular choice as well.

For something more formal, it's a quick shot to downtown Bel Air or downtown Baltimore.

Foster Branch Homeowners Associationfbhoa.org

Joppa/Joppatowne Community Councilharfordcountymd.gov

Rumsey Island Residents' Association Inc.rumseyisland.com.

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