It's been more than 20 years since the last polo match was played in Smithville. The Smithville Polo team, founded in 1984 and sponsored over the years by Resorts International, Caesar's and Harrah's casinos, disbanded in 1991.
The polo may be long gone, but the field where ponies once galloped and spectators stomped divots at halftime is still there. So is the old scoreboard. And so is the Polo Club, an exclusive community of upscale single family homes.
Dorothy Lovitz knew nothing about polo when she and her husband bought a lot at the fledgling development in 1993. She didn't even know where Smithville was. She and her husband, Todd, who owned novelty stores on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, were living in Northfield and looking to build a larger house in a more rural environment.
"I had never been out this way until a friend told me about the Polo Club," Dorothy says. "When I saw all the trees, the big lots and the privacy, I loved it. It's a secret place."
At the time only a handful of homes had been built in that section of the Polo Club. Today, the full developed community off Old New York Road has 21 homes, some of which are valued at more than $1 million.
Dorothy liked the upscale nature of the Polo Club, which as part of the Smithville PUD (planned unit development), has strict rules on the types of homes that can be built.
"There's an architectural committee that has a lot of restrictions that protect the value of your home," she says. "A one-story house has to be at least 3,000 square feet and a two-story has to be at least 3,600 square feet. You can't park a boat or a commercial vehicle in your driveway. You can't paint your house a weird color."
The house Dorothy and her husband built occupies a mostly wooded 1.3-acre corner lot. The one-story contemporary has 4 bedrooms, 3½ baths and nearly 4,000 square feet of living space not including an 1,800 square foot unfinished basement. The exterior is made of Dryvit, a textured coating with excellent insulating qualities.
A circular blacktop driveway runs through a beautifully landscaped yard dotted with tall pine trees. A thick swathe of forest screens three sides of the property from neighboring homes.
Entered from a two-story covered porch, the house features hardwood floors in the foyer, hallways and dining room. Interior rooms include a sunken living room with a vaulted ceiling, a carpeted family room with a wood burning fireplace, a formal dining room with a tray ceiling and a laundry room. The extra large eat-in kitchen has a ceramic tile floor, a center island and an eating area set into a bayed window. A two-level rear deck can be accessed from the family room and the kitchen.
Two bedrooms share a large bathroom on one side of the house. On the opposite side is a bedroom that serves as Dorothy's office, another full bath, and a nearly 1,000-square-foot master suite. The master is entered through pocket doors and includes a large tiled bathroom with a whirlpool tub, walk-in shower and his and hers sinks. The walk-in closet is the size of a bedroom and is equipped built-in shelves. The bedroom is lined with tall casement windows and features a tray ceiling that extends from one side of the room to the other.
Other amenities include a security system, a sprinkler system and decorative lighting on the fence surrounding the back yard. An oversized two-car garage is entered from the side and a covered back porch opens to the patio.
As part of the PUD, which consists of 14 residential villages with a total of 2,400 homes, Polo Club residents have use of Smithville's tennis courts, two pools, bike paths, common areas, two clubhouses, two gyms. Homeowners pay $50 a month for use of the public facilities.
"I never use them," says Dorothy, who for the past 15 years has owned Celebrity Collectibles at the Shops at Smithville. "I work all the time."
Dorothy, who is now divorced, plans to move to a smaller house in Smithville when she sells her house at the Polo Club. She'll still run her store, where the merchandise includes everything from Betty Boop and Three Stooges tee-shirts to a replica of the leg lamp from the classic film "A Christmas Story."
"I love it here," she says. "I'm only a mile from work. It's real quiet and private. I've been here 18 years and I know maybe five of my neighbors. They don't come to my house and I don't come to theirs. I personally like that."
For more information on this property, which is listed for $539,000, call Joy Dingler of Smithville All Pro Realtors, 609-652-9944 or 609-703-5025.
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