Kensington apartment dwellers enjoy town but are unsure about growth
But many say they're opposed to proposed growth
When she moved to Kensington, Alice Kessler thought she would lose weight from walking to the train station, grocery store and shops.
"The problem is, you can walk to Continental Pizza, you can walk to Baskin Robbins, you can walk to Dunkin Donuts, you can walk to the Tea Room, you can walk to Hong Kong restaurant," said Kessler, who has lived in the Fawcett Street Apartments for six years.
For better or for worse, that walking convenience is something county planners are trying to capitalize on in the Kensington Sector Plan, encouraging more multi-family housing units, like apartments and townhomes, to be built near the town center and MARC train station. Residents who already live in Kensington's apartment communities — sometimes overlooked in a town known for its Victorian single family homes — say it's a lifestyle they already enjoy, but don't necessarily want expanded.
Kessler takes the train to work in Washington, D.C., frequently, but said she's unreceptive to adding more apartment buildings in town.
"Traffic is already a nightmare," she said.
Mabel Baker, a resident of the Kensington House Apartments, already one of the tallest buildings in town, said she too hesitates at the idea of adding 75-foot buildings there, the height limit outlined in the proposed Kensington Sector Plan. Baker said she does think it's good to "have walkable communities like this."
"I don't use my car very much because I think Kensington provides the things I need," Baker said.
Baker's fellow Kensington House resident Michael Steurer is unsurprised by the reluctance of even Kensington's current apartment dwellers to add to their own ranks.
"The mindset in Kensington is really resistant to change," Steurer said. "The status quo is good. Kensington is kind of like Texas, it's the Republic of Texas, it's not a state."
He said he would support more mixed-use building in the town, so long as the uses were separate enough that "a beauty parlor wouldn't be right next door to my apartment.
Steurer said he didn't shop around a great deal before settling in his current apartment, but said it is "stupid expensive" to live there compared to what he's used to in the Midwest.
"What I'm paying for this one bedroom apartment is what I pay for a three-bedroom, two-car garage house in a new subdivision in Ohio," Steurer said.
Edward Warren, who lives in Kensington House, said the high cost of living in the county is a good reason to add more choice, which would help people who can't afford to live here.
"It would be helpful for the people who are starving, you know, and need a place to live," Warren said. "Another apartment (building) would be good for that."
But Kessler worries if the desirability of the area increases, so too will her rent.
"If it becomes more popular and people realize what a good deal it is and how good the transportation is, everything's going to get more expensive," she said.