When the sun is down, your dog should go home. And you both should sleep in on the weekend.
That is the message from Fairfax County, which has slightly altered the hours of county dog parks to align with the county’s new noise ordinance. The Fairfax County Park Authority says new operating hours will go info effect on Feb. 17.
In the past, operating hours at the county’s off-leash dog parks, including Reston’s location at Baron Cameron Park, were consistent with overall park operating hours, which are dawn to dusk.
The new hours will be 7 a.m. to one half-hour after sunset Monday through Friday. On weekends and federal holidays, the hours will be 8 a.m. to one half-hour after sunset.
All of the county dog parks will have signs posted showing the new operating hours.
After several years of discussion, Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors in November voted on a new ordinance. The new rules provide guidelines on everything from lawn mowers to garbage collection to dogs.
The new ordinance put into place the amended dog park hours. It also made some rules about rogue animals noises in your own home (if the neighbors hear and complain). The new ordinance says no “barking, howling, meowing, squawking or quacking animals between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. when it can be heard inside a home with its doors and windows closed, or if these sounds can be heard 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. for more than five minutes consecutively or non-consecutively during a 10-minute period.”
Violators of the ordinance can face both criminal and civil penalties. Criminal penalties for violation, a Class 2 misdemeanor, can be include jail time (up to six months) and/or a $1,000 fine. There can also be civil penalties of $250 (and $500 for subsequent offenses).
The dog park noise has been a subject of concern for some Reston residents who live near Baron Cameron Park.
A group of residents from Longwood Grove, a subdivision located across Wiehle Avenue from the park, has spent more than two years lobbying to get the location of the dog run changed to the park’s interior and filed a lawsuit ordering the park to cease.
“On its worst days, the noise is incessant,” says the lawsuit filed in 2014. “The nuisance noise at the dog park disrupts the Longwood Grove Plaintiffs’ reasonable use and enjoyment of their properties.”
Fairfax County Park Authority Board Chair Bill Bouie has previously said the county has listened to the affected residents and installed noise-reducing fencing. He also said the county has done its own tests and found no measurable noise coming from the park.
Last April, a Fairfax County judge partially dismissed the lawsuit against the park authority. The homeowners continued with a case against Reston Dogs, Inc., the nonprofit that supports the park, but that was also recently dismissed as the nonprofit has disbanded, said Bouie.
Photo: Reston Dog Park/file photo