Exotic friends help at tax time


Call it premonition. It was 1989 and John and Kathy McQueeny were building a custom home on Kent Island. The setting couldn't be more idyllic -- 24 acres accessed by a long drive winding through a wooded area and around three 1-acre ponds and then opening to spacious fields running down to water's edge.

The home, a 4,500 square-foot, two-story brick traditional, sited to take maximum advantage of a panoramic view of the Chesapeake Bay, was nearly complete. All the McQueenys needed was an address.

Call it Fantasy Lane.

"The local postal authorities in Stevensville told us our private drive was so long we could name it," Mr. McQueeny said. "And, since this place represented a fantasy come true -- our dream home -- we now live on Fantasy Lane. So, actually, the name came first and the animals a bit later."


Ah, yes. A series of fenced pastures hold two American bison, three llamas, two adult wallabies and a joey still in his mother's pouch, two Australian fainting goats and a Scottish Highlander cow. And then there are the camels, the two dromedaries who shyly come to the fence for a treat.

"I wanted to have the land zoned for agricultural use to save money on property taxes," Mr. McQueeny said. "I was told that if I had five large animals we could qualify for agricultural zoning. So when I saw Laverne and Shirley, our American bison, advertised for sale in Southern Maryland, I bought them."

Other additions followed. Soon, the number of animals had quietly passed five, underscoring the obvious enjoyment the McQueenys derive from their menagerie.

The home itself is tastefully landscaped and surrounded by lush green lawns, front and back, which extend 320 feet down to the water's edge.

A paved brick path leads to the front door, which opens to an elegant foyer and a center staircase spiraling up to the home's second level. Rich oak flooring, complemented by area rugs, antiques and carefully selected Victorian furniture reproductions, provide a decorative focus that extends into the living room and a connecting dining room featuring a handsome Henredon dining set.

From the dining room, twin windowed French doors open into a spacious family room that enjoys a commanding view -- thanks to three sliding glass doors -- of the water. An entertainment center, several furniture groupings and a large fireplace give the room a casual, comfortable look -- room aplenty for the McQueenys' two boys, ages 9 and 1, to play without interfering with the adults' relaxation.

Throughout the home, light streams in from generously sized windows and highlights window treatments and wallpaper featuring complementary floral patterns.

One of the most striking features of the home's interior is the kitchen. A very generously sized room that opens to the family room, it contains an eat-in island, a large table that seats six comfortably, a smaller table for two near a window, and loads of cabinets, counter work space and room to move around. At the end of the kitchen opposite the family room, a second, extra-wide staircase to the second level and a door leading to a three-car garage underscore the extreme functionality of the layout.

"Kathy designed the kitchen," Mr. McQueeny said. "She wanted lots of freedom to work."

The combination of the tile kitchen floor, the second staircase leading directly to the boys' upstairs bedrooms, and an easily accessible first-floor powder room would surely bring a smile to the face on any mother dealing with kids who are constantly in and out. So, too, would the laundry chute, which empties into a cabinet masked by attractive doors, right above the washer and dryer in the first-floor laundry room.

One walking through the living room and into the foyer notes Mrs. McQueeny's collection of Hummel figurines, yet another decorative touch.

The upstairs follows the same design formula as the lower level, with all rooms generous in size and nearly all windows affording a breathtaking view. The boys' bedrooms, a bathroom and a guest bedroom occupy more than half of the upper floor. One-year-old Christopher's room is decorated in a Noah's Ark motif.

The opposite end of the upper level features a large master bedroom suite with a private bathroom and Jacuzzi off one end and a modest-size sitting room off the other end. Rose and green tones predominate and, coupled with rich wood hues and beams of light streaming from strategically placed windows, add a soft and inviting touch to the rooms.

The octagonally shaped sitting room, with sofa, TV and side chairs, provides additional closet space and features three bay-like windows overlooking fields and water.

From it, the McQueenys can look out onto the fields and watch their exotic animals or gaze toward the bay and its wildfowl.

If everything just seems to fit together naturally, chalk it up to good planning and the builder, John Landon of Riverview Builders in Kent County. Two years ago, the property and home were appraised at $1.2 million.

"We modeled this home after a cedar and brick home we liked," said Mr. McQueeny, "but Kathy and John [Landon] changed the design to maximize our view, expanded its dimensions, opted for an all-brick exterior and added such architectural features as the side staircase from the kitchen and the second-level sitting room."

"We love it here," said Mrs. McQueeny. "When we found the property and started planning our home, we knew we would put down deep roots here. So we haven't had to rush anything. Some of the decorating projects we've completed have taken several years or longer, but everything has been worth waiting for."

And everybody -- from neighbors entertaining guests to local Scout groups, elementary school classes and even children in day care -- enjoys the McQueenys' menagerie.

To the side of the house, a child's play area -- with a wooden pirate ship and swing set -- offers another diversion for the McQueeny children. At water's edge, a 300-foot dock juts into NTC the bay, offering a tantalizing reminder that there is yet another world waiting to be explored.

"It's a wonderful place to live and raise a family," said Mrs. McQueeny, no doubt the only former nurse in the whole Chesapeake Bay area who has been tasked with caring for a new baby and bottle-feeding a baby wallaby at the same time.

"It's all here -- church, community and the kind of home I've always dreamed about."

Pub Date: 6/07/98

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