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Longwood Grove Neighbors Ask RA’s Help in Quieting Dog Park

by Karen Goff — February 22, 2016 at 10:00 am 16 Comments

Playtime at the dog parkMore than 50 Longwood Grove homeowners are asking for Reston Association’s assistance in finally quieting the noise from the Baron Cameron Park Dog Park.

The homeowners told RA in a letter/petition on Feb. 1 that it “Despite neighbors’ best efforts to encourage the [Fairfax County] Park Authority to effectively manage and create a sustainable solution for coexistence, we conclude that the only viable option is to close and relocate the dog park.”

The Reston Association Board of Directors will discuss the homeowners’ request its monthly meeting on Thursday and may decide to more formally discuss the matter in March.

It is unclear what, if anything, RA can do about the dog park, which is located in a Fairfax County Park Authority Park and not on Reston Association property.

The issue is not a new one. The dog park has been at Baron Cameron since 2001. The Longwood Grove owners — who are separated from the park by noise-reducing fencing material, four lanes of Wiehle Avenue traffic and several hundred feet — have been bothered by the noise pretty much ever since.

In recent years, the neighbors have asked the park authority to move the off-leash area farther into the park or to shut down the location and move it to Lake Fairfax Park, which has much more separation from private homes.

In March of 2014, five Longwood Grove homeowners filed suit against the FCPA and Reston Dogs, Inc., a nonprofit group that formerly ran the dog area, saying the park constitutes a private nuisance.

The complaint cited several previous Virginia rulings dealing with the definition of a nuisance. It claimed the residents are likely to suffer “irreparable harm from the dogs barking and fighting” and have no legal remedy other to quiet the noise other than to ask for an injunction to shut down the park.

The case was dismissed by a Fairfax County judge in March of 2015.

The recent letter from the Longwood Grove residents to the RA Board says “the negative impact of this park feature on our neighborhood is severe. The barking has created years of ongoing stress: the noise disrupts our sleep, invades peace and quiet of homes throughout the day, and can often be heard after the park has closed.”

The residents also say the increased traffic turning into the park is “unacceptable for a renowned planned community like Reston.”

Meanwhile, the new Fairfax County noise ordinance went into effect last week, which slightly altered the dog park hours. The new hours are 7 a.m. to one half-hour after sunset Monday through Friday. On weekends and federal holidays, the hours are 8 a.m. to one half-hour after sunset.

Here is the full letter:

Dear Reston Association Board Members,

We write to ask your help with nuisance noise caused by daily barking at the Baron Cameron dog park adjacent to our homes. The negative impact of this park feature on our neighborhood is severe. The barking has created years of ongoing stress: the noise disrupts sleep, invades the peace and quiet of homes throughout the day, and can often be heard after the park has closed.

The increased vehicular traffic, which includes many park users turning into or out of the park, makes it difficult to get out of Longwood Grove. We feel this is unacceptable for a renowned planned community like Reston that values the “peace, health, comfort, safety and general welfare of its members.” We hope you agree.

We do not oppose dog parks; we advocate for their responsible placement and management. We believe that many use the dog park responsibly; however, many do not. As many of us are dog owners, we understand that dogs bark. We believe that it is an owner’s responsibility to be in control of and responsible for their dog(s) at all times. None of the dog park rules are enforceable. This is a “use at your own risk” facility with voluntary compliance and no consequence for violation.

Dog park violations have been a long-standing problem even for the Reston Dogs sponsor groups. Despite neighbors’ best efforts to encourage the [Fairfax County] Park Authority to effectively manage and create a sustainable solution for coexistence, we conclude that the only viable option is to close and relocate the dog park.

The Longwood Grove neighborhood was developed in the mid 1980s. The dog park was installed as “interim use” into the then designated school site across the street in 2001. The Park Authority did not seek or receive Planning Commission approval as required by VA code 15.2-2232. This requirement is reiterated in county guidelines. This park feature clearly changed the characteristic of this park by exposing this neighborhood to a feature unlike any other in usage
and noise generation as it is utilized 365 days a year from early morning to dusk. Fairfax County has recognized barking as a nuisance since the adoption of the first Noise Ordinance 50 years ago. With the anticipated growth in Fairfax County, especially within Reston, we believe this nuisance will continue to worsen.

We recognize the desire for a dog park, but seek Reston Association’s assistance for ensuring any amenity within Reston serves and supports the needs of all members of the community; one that is in keeping with the fundamental planning goals of Reston which seeks to ensure the homeowner peace and enjoyment of their home and property.

Baron Cameron Dog Park/file phto

 

  • Dog Park Lover/User

    Let me know when it affects your re-sale value!

  • Ming the Merciless

    The residents also say the increased traffic turning into the park is
    “unacceptable for a renowned planned community like Reston.”

    Because actually using an existing park that has been there for decades is totally unacceptable! We demand that nobody use this park!

    It is unclear what, if anything, RA can do about the dog park, which is located in a Fairfax County Park Authority Park and not on Reston Association property.

    Obviously the RA should relocate the dog park to the Tetra property!

    • LesAnn620

      The residents also say the increased traffic turning into the park is “unacceptable for a renowned planned community like Reston.”

      Similarly, shutting down the dog park won’t decrease the traffic all that much as hundreds of people still go there to use the numerous sports fields. My husband and I go to the dog park frequently and the most cars I’ve ever seen there (specifically parked at the dog park portion) is maybe in the realm of 25 on a really nice day.

      • Ming the Merciless

        Imagine how excited they’ll be when the sports fields are improved and expanded, as planned.

  • Arielle in NoVA

    Haters shouldn’t live in neighborhoods. They should live far away from other people, where they don’t have to hear other people going about their day.

  • David Caruso

    “It is unclear what, if anything, RA can do about the dog park, which is located in a Fairfax County Park Authority Park and not on Reston Association property.”

    Sounds like these folks are … barking up the wrong tree.

  • High Freq

    This problem could easily be solved to the satisfaction of all humans, thanks to modern tech and some basic robot programming.

  • meh

    Wouldn’t people that are purchasing these properties be aware that there’s a dog park there? Talk about the tail wagging the dog

  • LakeNewportLady

    This is the silliest protest ever. I would love to see a breakdown of those 50 neighbors and when they purchased their houses…if it’s after 2001 then can put on their big boy pants and get over it. If it’s before…I seriously question the true disturbance. I run down wiehle all the time and always forget there is a dog park there. The traffic on wiehle drowns out almost all sounds of a dog park. I’d guess the soccer games and baseball games probably make more noise.

  • Steve

    As Reston Now has previously reported, the master plan for underused Baron Cameron Park calls for consideration of an indoor recreation center with a pool. It also suggests that the dog park could be moved as part of this redevelopment. If I lived in Longwood Grove, this is the plan I would push for with RA and the county: a rec center across the street and no more barking dogs. If I lived in Longwood Grove and opposed the rec center, I would worry that people would accuse me of complaining about the dog park not because of the noise but because it interferes with what I consider to be my private, personal green space only for use by my neighborhood instead of the community.
    https://www.restonnow.com/2014/07/11/park-master-plan-provides-framework-but-not-necessarily-facilities/

    • Karen Goff

      That’s actually an old plan. The latest plan is to put the rec center at Town Center North.

  • Steve

    Folks, please know dog parks are just a fact of life in growing, thriving urban environments such as ours. Check this out: https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/san-antonio-park-public-space-design-dog-park-crowdfunding

  • kcowing

    I walk up and down Wiehle Ave almost every day of the week – right past the Dog Park – twice. Rarely, if ever, do I hear a single dog. When I do hear a dog it is overwhelmed by the much louder sound of automobile traffic. Why aren’t people trying to keep cars off of Wiehle Ave? THAT would reduce noise much more effectively.

  • Guest

    The soccer fields and softball diamonds generate more traffic than the dog park ever has, especially on weekends. Perhaps we should ban kids’ sports as well?

    • Nyla J.

      I live in the flight path from Dulles. The planes sometimes make my windows rattle. Shut down the airport?

  • jmsullivan

    That’s kind of like looking for your keys over here because the light’s better, isn’t it? I mean if you’re going to appeal to someone who doesn’t have any actual jurisdiction over the dog park, why not just go all the way and ask Vladimir Putin for help? He’s more likely to actually intervene.

    I can see the headlines now. Russia Annexes Fairfax County Dog Park!

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