Folks in Allview Estates in Howard County see their community as an oasis -- a close-knit, established community of mature trees and 30-year-old brick homes surrounded by the New Town of Columbia.
When the community of about 450 homes was first developed in the 1950s, Columbia wasn't even on the map.
Since then, the unincorporated city of 82,000 has grown up and surrounded Allview. Although life around Allview and its sister community Arrowhead has never been the same, life within the bucolic community has remained pretty much the same.
"It's like an isolated, little island. It's retained its original characteristics," says Mary Jane Myers, who had been an Allview resident for 34 years and now sells real estate there.
"I don't think it's changed much," agrees Bill Amos, a 22-year resident and president of the Allview-Arrowhead Civic Association.
"It's the geography that's kept it this way. We have a lot of natural buffers through geography."
Those buffers include the Patuxent River and watershed running along the eastern side and Beaver Creek, which runs along the southern border. U.S. 29 bounds the community to the west and Broken Land Parkway to the north.
Most residents say Columbia's development all around Allview doesn't bother them; in fact, many see it as having the best of both worlds.
"We have all the amenities of Columbia. We shop in Columbia. We go to The Mall in Columbia," says Mr. Amos. "But we don't pay the Columbia [property tax] assessment."
Carol and Harry Lejda, 8 1/2 -year residents of Allview, relocated to Howard County from Rochester, N.Y., about 10 years ago. Initially, they bought a house in Columbia's Village of Oakland Mills. "Everyone told us to look in Columbia -- we'd love it," recalls Mrs. Lejda. But within a year, they knew Columbia wasn't for them. Although the Lejdas liked the many conveniences of Columbia, they wanted an older, "more established" community.
They found a house in Allview and put down a contract immediately.
"We liked the size of the lots. We liked the trees. We have more privacy here because we have more space," says Mrs. Lejda. The Lejdas' Colonial home is in Arrowhead, a section of 20 houses which residents consider part of the larger Allview community. Arrowhead received a different name because it had a different builder, Mrs. Lejda said.
The majority of the original houses in Allview, built by local developer Henry Witt, are three-bedroom brick ranchers constructed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The community also has split foyers, split levels and Colonials built in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and a few newer houses as well.
Originally on its own water system, which was drawn from community wells, Allview was put on county water and sewer 17 years ago, says Mrs. Myers, who specializes in Allview resales. Once the community went on public water, the remaining scattered lots that couldn't accommodate septic systems have gradually been developed, creating a range of housing styles and types.
House prices range from $145,000 on the low end for a small ranch to $300,000 on the high end for a newer home or one that has been enlarged and remodeled. Most sell for about $175,000 to $205,000, which makes it comparable to many neighborhoods in Columbia, says Mrs. Myers, "and you get a bigger lot and a solid brick home."
Brenda Sutton, who moved from Laurel with her husband and two sons 13 years ago, said they chose Allview because it was close to Columbia and they could find a brick house in a quiet neighborhood.
"We were looking for an older, more established neighborhood," says Mrs. Sutton. "We drove through here one Sunday and it was love at first sight."
Many Allview residents have lived in their homes for decades and there isn't much turnover, say local real estate agents. And many families have "moved up" to bigger homes within the community or added rooms or whole wings to their homes rather than move elsewhere.
This stability has allowed residents to make long-lasting friendships, many say.
"We've made a lot of great friends here over the years. It's just a real friendly neighborhood," says Mrs. Sutton. "We kid around about hitting the lottery . . . and I always say we'd buy five acres somewhere and put a house in the middle of it. But then my son always says, 'Mom, we can't leave here. You've done so much with the house.' That's how much they like it. They don't want to leave, either."
Allview was developed with half-acre lots, giving it an open, uncongested feel. The neighborhood is noted for its large trees and attractive landscaping; many residents have cultivated beautiful flower gardens over the years.
Those familiar with Columbia have no trouble telling where the New Town ends and Allview begins. Since lots in Columbia are smaller, the houses are closer together. And you'll find no sidewalks, streetlights or cluster mailboxes in Allview.
"We've tried to maintain the rural nature here," says Mr. Amos. "If you want sidewalks and streetlights, then Allview is not for you."
Most residents say the community is a great place to raise XTC children, with safe streets, the neighborhood swim and tennis club and an elementary school in its midst.
* Population: 1,500 (1990 census)
* Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 30 minutes
* Commuting time to Washington: 40 minutes
* Public schools: Atholton Elementary School; Oakland Mills Middle School; Oakland Mills High School
* Shopping: Atholton Shopping Center, with Columbia Groceries Deli, U.S. Post Office, hair salons, video store, dry cleaners and other services; Hickory Ridge Village Center, Oakland Mills Village Center, Owen Brown Village Center and King's Contrivance Village Center, all within three miles.
* Nearest mall: The Mall at Columbia, 2.5 miles north.
* Points of interest: Atholton Swim Club with pool, tennis courts ,, and playground; Patuxent River watershed area; Lake Elkhorn Park in Columbia; King's Contrivance Restaurant; Howard Community College, 2.5 miles north; Merriweather Post Pavilion, two miles north; the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, two miles southwest; the Savage Mill, two miles southeast, a restored mill with a variety of shops, artists studios and antiques stores.
* ZIP code: 21046
* Average price of a single-family homes: $192,800 (17 sales)
* Average price for houses sold through the Mid-Atlantic Real Estate Information Technologies multiple listing service over the past 12 months.