I grew up in a small community off of Flora Corner Road. When giving directions to my house, you had to start with “know where the Wonder Bread is? Turn there onto the road with the cows.” Well, the Wonder Bread distributor apparently closed this month and the cows have been gone for many years. The cow fields have laid grown corn or soybeans since the cows left, and the fields across the street have always grown corn. Ever since the cows left, I’ve always wanted to walk around that area, just to see what’s there. The houses on the road are, with very few exceptions, all older and smaller and with larger properties. Most of the people on the road have some sort of summer vegetable garden, and one of the farmers on the road grows a large crop of sunflowers that’s just gorgeous for a few weeks every summer. Another always has an interesting crop of scarecrows.
My parents still live in the house I grew up in, so I still drive down that road all the time. There are 3 new, smaller developments right at the end of the road my parents live on. But they’re not an eyesore. The homes are larger and they are in a wooded area with a decent amount of land per house.
Now, a developer has started building homes in the spot that used to be a cow pasture. The one home that is almost complete is large and gorgeous and on a hill where a barn used to be. I’d love to live there, with 5 or 6 homes as neighbors and a few acres to call my own. But the developer wants to built more homes there. How many more? 100 buildings, equaling 1,700 more residences (including, presumably, townhomes etc). Yes. One thousand seven hundred residences on what is currently 384.5 acres of beautiful old farmland (that could, incidentally, still be used as farmland).
Our County Commissioners are set to designate this land for rural preservation, but if they don’t do it before the builders start building, then the builders win. They can build their 1,700 residences. I’m sort of horrified. But I’m also thrilled that the community has come together to fight back. Lots of residents showed up at the zoning meeting, my parents have been passing out flyers and petitions, and someone in the community started http://savefloracorner.com/ (saw the sign for the site when I was driving by last week.)
St. Mary’s County is considered rural, but even now I have a hard time describing it as such. We have a Naval Air Base (PAX) at the southern end of the county, and that accounts for some growth. But slowly over the past few years, I’ve seen numerous stately old farm homes (that I’d always wanted to poke around in) torn down, and numerous corn fields turn into developments where homes 4x the size of mine stand on a piece of property 1/4 the size of mine. We are a waterman’s and farmer’s county – turn down many of our side roads and you will eventually end up at the river or a tributary after passing lots of corn and soybean fields (maybe even a few lone tobacco fields). I’d really like to keep it that way. We’re a Chesapeake watershed community.
My husband and I desperately want to buy a few acres, secluded a little on some old farmland or cleared woods, so that in 15 years or so (depressing it will take that long…but that’s a different story) when we can afford to move out of our apartment-sized house and build our dream home, we have a beautiful spot to do so. Several of the places I’ve thought would be a gorgeous spot for a house or two over the years now sport about 50 homes. It’s crazy, it’s ugly, and I hate it. One of the developers that most frequently does this is actually the one that a BFF’s parents work for, so they will remain nameless. But I hate that these companies – may of them local – look only at profits and build McMansion communities instead of building a few nice homes for a few nice families in the same spot. Of course equally to blame are the cash-strapped farmers who sell to the developers instead of doing it the hard way and dividing up their property so people like me can afford it and buy for the future.
I know I have few readers who are local to me, but many of you can probably sympathize with the situation. I’m sure this is not the only area where this is happening. If you support keeping your hometown rural, I’d really appreciate it if you could take a minute and send the pre-written sample letter to the Board of County Commissioners asking them to keep my hometown rural, too. Let me know if you do – I may be able to send out some personal “thank you gifts.”
Maybe the scarecrows will help scare them away. (I didn’t get a photo of the one he always does with a bent traffic cone that looks like a witch hat in my drive-by-shooting.)
[There are more barns, but I didn't want to go behind the padlocked gate to get closer to them for photos - at least not today. They already took down one silo closer to the road a few years back.]