Work Samples

Room to Roam, and Float, in Anne Arundel

Small Riva Community Has Yards for the Kids and Docks for the Boat

June 14, 2008

By David Driver
For the Washington Post
Used with permission

It did not take Dan Hurston long to get involved in his new neighborhood. Hurston moved about two years ago to Annapolis Landing in Riva and is already vice president of the homeowners association.

Hurston attended the Key School in Annapolis, then went to college and worked in Texas before returning to Maryland. He and his wife are both lawyers and commute daily to Washington, a drive that takes about 45 minutes each way on a good day.

"We wanted to live in the Annapolis area but wanted something that was convenient to the Washington area since we both worked there. We thought it was the best of both worlds," he said.

"You have senior citizens. You have middle age. You have young professionals. You have people with children. It is not a cookie-cutter community. There is a lot of diversity. It is great," he said of Annapolis Landing, which will mark its 30th anniversary next year.

Hurston added another, practical item that makes Annapolis Landing more attractive than some communities: Homes tap into Anne Arundel County water lines, while many other neighborhoods near water in the county rely on well water.

Annapolis Landing has 248 houses, most of which were built 25 to 30 years ago. Most are Colonials with about 2,500 to 3,000 square feet that sit on lots of about 10,000 square feet.

While there are many newcomers, Joseph and Mary Clemmons are among the dozen or so original homeowners. They moved to Annapolis Landing from New Carrollton in 1979 with their oldest daughter. They wanted to remain close to their jobs at Fort Meade. Joseph retired from the National Security Agency in 1986, and Mary followed suit the next year, but they remain in Riva.

"I would say, naturally, the area has changed since more younger people are coming in," Mary said. "There were not that many children here for a long time."

Nearly every house has a sizable yard, an ideal place for children. There are also two playgrounds in the neighborhood.

Many of the houses have front porches, and plenty have green grass in the front and back yards. It is common to see neighbors out in their well-manicured front yards talking with one another in the evening.

Annapolis Landing also has a gated, 62-slip marina, which means about a quarter of the residents have a spot. There is a waiting list of about 60 people, and some residents have waited more than four years for a slip.

The water was a big drawing card for Don and Kate Jones because Don is a water skier. They bought a house in the neighborhood for $335,000 about 10 years ago after moving from California.

"This is the first house we looked at," Kate said. "We looked at 28 other houses, but we kept coming back to this. When we lived in San Francisco, we were newlyweds. I knew I didn't want to have kids living out there. You had to drive halfway across town to get grass under your feet. Nobody has a yard."

That is certainly not the case in Annapolis Landing.

Mark Majikas said the marina was a selling point when he moved to Riva from Pasadena, Md., about 14 years ago. He said he paid $300 annually then for a boat spot. That fee has risen to $500 -- still much lower than slips in Annapolis.

James Hopkins grew up nearby, in Edgewater, and moved to Annapolis Landing with his family to escape a growing number of strip malls. He said he likes the community feel of the neighborhood, as well as the marina. He's on the waiting list for a slip there.

The appeal goes beyond the marina, too.

"It is not one of those neighborhoods where everyone keeps to themselves," said Debbie Mikutsky, who has three young children. "People kind of want to know each other. That was the attitude when the community started. There are a lot of community activities." Mikutsky handles community relations for the Annapolis Landing Homeowners Association.

Mikutsky, who grew up near Pittsburgh, moved to Baltimore after she graduated from Penn State in 1987. "I move around quite a bit," she said. "I met my husband, Dave, and we rented a townhouse in Crofton. We were there a couple of years and decided it was time to buy."

Their house was "a dump" when they bought it in 1997, she said -- a rarity in Annapolis Landing. "It was a foreclosure. It was just a mess. But my husband is a man of vision, and we were brave, and at the time we had no children."

Thanks in part to Mikutsky, some residents don't have to leave the neighborhood for entertainment. There are a women's club, a book club, an annual Easter egg hunt for children, back-to-school ice cream socials, movie nights and more. "Debbie is always planning something," Kate Jones said.

A recent 16-page newsletter published by the association listed teens in the neighborhood willing take on odd jobs, an update on the replacement of 14 piers at the marina and a schedule of hosts for upcoming monthly happy hours. There are annual Halloween parades down Westbury Drive, the main artery.

Although there's not much within walking distance outside the subdivision, there are major shopping centers just a few miles away. The public elementary, middle and high schools are also a short drive, and adjacent to each other, off Route 214. Homestead Gardens and Renditions golf course are close by in Davidsonville.