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Pair of Public Hearings Scheduled for Thursday’s RA Board Meeting

by Katherine Berko June 20, 2017 at 11:30 am 22 Comments

At its meeting Thursday (view agenda), the Reston Association Board of Directors will hold public hearings on a hunting request and a pipeline easement.

In 2014, the Board voted to allow residents of Sourwood Lane to hire a hunting service to help control the deer population in the area. Clearance to hunt was provided for three years, and now residents of 11624, 11626 and 11632 Sourwood Lane are asking for three more.

According to applicants Larry and Jan Gsellman, Rodney Jones, and James and Margo Sterling:

“During the first permit that ends in August 2017 a total of approximately 14 deer were removed from the two herds that had traveled our property. In spite of this we continue to see significant damage to plantings. The purpose of the renewal of the hunt is to continue reducing the deer population in and around our properties [to] a level that is sustainable.”

The applicants say they want to curb the spread of tick-borne Lyme disease and stop devastation of vegetation in the area. Suburban Whitetail Management of Northern Virginia would conduct the hunts, as it has in previous years.

A notification letter was sent out to residents in the area. Four responded with messages of approval, including one that said “deer sightings in the neighborhood have fallen off significantly [since 2014], and I feel sure the program has reduced the local risks of disease and potential traffic accidents.” Two responded negatively, including one who expressed fears about the danger of hunting to people, pets, structures and vehicles in the immediate area.

Any hunting would have to take place at least 50 yards from an occupied residence, with the exception of the requesting lot owners’ residences, and 50 yards away from any street, sidewalk, trail, pathway, bus stop, playground or other public place.

The other public hearing on the meeting’s agenda is a request from Williams/Transco Pipeline for an exclusive easement and right of way over a Reston Association common area. The area of interest is located off North Shore Drive, next to RA’s Golf Course Island plot. The discussion about this request began in the fall of 2016 and remains unresolved.

Williams/Transco currently has a 135-foot-wide easement to their pipelines, but they are requesting more easement so they can add additional equipment, such as valves. If this request is granted, Williams/Transco will have exclusive access to the allotted parcel of land.

During a board meeting on May 25, the Reston Association Board of Directors voted unanimously to continue negotiating with Williams/Transco and to hold a public hearing at their next meeting on June 22. A panel of the Design Review Board approved a site plan submitted by Williams/Transco, with the exception of a few enhancements which Williams/Transco agreed to change.

The meeting will be held Thursday, beginning at 6:30 p.m., at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). It will also be streamed live on RA’s YouTube channel.

Maps via Reston Association

  • 40yearsinreston

    How much are Williams willing to pay ?
    Based on past actions, RA would give it away

  • As a resident who lives five doors away from the tree that the deer hunter will be shooting from, I’m really dismayed by this application. Overpopulation of deer is a problem, and it needs a sustainable solution. Shooting a couple of deer with arrows is not a solution, it’s simply barbarism. The deer population did not subside, as far as my family can tell, after 2014. I drive down Soapwood and Lawyers every morning at about 6:00 am and my deer sightings are steady and frequent. Suburban Whitetail Management is a hunting club – they aren’t scientists, and they have no sort of certification for wildlife control. When they were asked, in 2014, if they had data on the results of their efforts, their answer was to look like deer caught in headlights and say no. This is because wildlife population control is not what they do; their focus is just on killing things. As I understand it, in 2014, they only killed one deer, so anyone saying “hey, it worked!” is absolutely delusional. I’ll be at the meeting and will object again to this farce, and will ask the board, again, that we hire experts to resolve the deer overpopulation problem using humane methods.

    • Mike M

      I think you have some good points except for the “barbarism.”

      Culling the herd logically will only make it healthier and stronger. It eases the strain on their food supply and removes the less alert and less skittish from the gene pool. That healthfulness is a trend I can say I have noted, albeit it anecdotally. There are some fine youngsters hopping around out there this year and last. We have had two really strong and healthy bucks near my house this Spring. Their deer suits look like the finest and cleanest I’ve ever seen. They are probably brothers and will soon be daddies.

      • In most cases, the arrow doesn’t instantly kill the deer. They’re mortally wounded; they bleed out. I stand by “barbaric.”

        • The Constitutionalist

          Bullets don’t instantly kill either. I know from personal experience.

          Also, they normally don’t bleed out from an arrow wound, they normally suffocate, but it depends on your skill level.

          • I hope that you don’t mean to say that you’re living proof of that. 😉

          • John Higgins

            I’d be interested on the basis for your statement that deer “normally suffocate” from an arrow shot. While a shot to the lungs will produce that result, all I have read tells me that blood loss is the usual cause of death (or more precisely, shock from the loss of blood.) Those who actually hunt are often challenged to recover the dear and it is the blood trail that leads them to the deer. Interestingly, even a direct shot to the heart will not immediately kill the animal.
            In addition to the number of deer the applicant has exterminated each year, I’d be curious to know where they were recovered. Odds are it was not on the applicant’s property.

          • The Constitutionalist

            The basis for my statement is my personal experience hunting all types of game large and small, as well as my considerable time spent overseas in the more dangerous areas of the world. It is common knowledge that a double lung shot is the most lethal and humane way to take deer when bow hunting. Shooting the lungs is not a second choice or something that happens “if” you do it. It’s literally where you aim.

            Deer are incredibly skittish, just small noises, including the loosing of your arrow, are enough to make them flinch – normally straight down – about 4-5 inches, making hitting the heart more difficult. I would say more than 75% of the time, hunters miss the heart.

            Those who hunt are not challenged to recover the deer. You are not shooting deer and leaving it. That’s called killing, not hunting.

        • Mike M

          So, you are the barbarism judge?
          We disagree on that.

          • Barbarism is in the eye of the beholder, apparently. I think that choosing a population control method that is painful and bloody (archery) over one that is humane (sterilization) is barbaric by nature. You are quite welcome to disagree. But, if you’re a doctor or dentist, let me know, because I want to avoid being treated by you. 😉

    • The Constitutionalist

      No one is certified in wildlife control. Take a look at our nation’s history on the subject. Provide me an example of one situation when we “humanely” managed a wild animal to “manageable” levels.

      I must be a barbarian – the type that had a freezer full of venison. I’ll eat some in your honor tonight.

      • I didn’t suggest that eating meat is barbaric; mortally wounding deer and leaving them to bleed out is. Shooting arrows in the street where children often play is dangerous. There are numerous humane methods of controlling deer populations, and they are much more effective than shooting one or two deer with arrows every three or four years, which is the solution that my neighbors are proposing.. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/local/wp/2014/02/17/fairfax-city-deer-spaying-update-18-does-sterilized-more-next-year/?utm_term=.648c34b869f7

        • The Constitutionalist

          I believe that humane methods exist. I don’t believe, as we’ve never successfully done it before, that humane and effective go together.

          I was just poking a little fun at your choice of words is all. I will still eat venison tonight in your honor. I agree with you, unless you are using the body of the animal that you kill, or it is posing life threatening harm to you or someone else, you should not kill it.

      • More to the point, I’m not even criticizing hunters – if you hunt food legally in designated places where children don’t play, and eat it, well, not my hobby, but what the hell. But don’t tell me that you are a scientist controlling wildlife populations just because you like to kill things. That’s all I’m saying here – the archery approach is not going to accomplish the goal, and my residential street is no place for people to be shooting arrows.

    • 40yearsinreston

      How about reintroducing some wolves or mountain lions
      That’s a natural control

      • The Constitutionalist

        How inhumane!

    • TheKingJAK

      True hunting is humane, and we need to increase our hunting and use of deer in the U.S. As it stands right now, the deer population in the Eastern United States is greater than it was even before colonists arrived in the 1600’s. Our lack of hunting has allowed this overpopulation to take place, and maybe instead of supporting so many Chinese owned factory farms with cattle and pigs stuffed together in caged stalls, we could instead begin to live off more of the food provided us via the wild deer population.

    • pc

      I wish you luck, Peter. As you likely know, Suburban Whitetail will be well represented at the meeting and they have their “story” down pat. There will be speakers who say that: 1. deer cause harm to native plants (and hence birds), 2. hunting helps starving deer 3. hunting will reduce deer-car collisions and 4. hunting will reduce the spread of lyme disease. Counter-arguments: 1. If this homeowner is seriously trying to protect his plants and help the bird population, he should first remove the English ivy that he was trying to protect in 2014 (if he has not already). English ivy is an invasive that likely does more harm to native plants than deer. It also attracts deer in winter. 2. The deer passing through Reston are not starving. Provide evidence that shows otherwise. I am outside in our woods every day and do not see it. 3. Hunting on this street will not reduce deer-car collisions in this vicinity. What will: driving the posted speed on Glade and Lawyers; 4. If lyme disease if of concern: what has been done to control mice? My understanding is that they are a more significant problem than deer in spreading the disease.
      I am sorry that you have to deal with something like this on your own street. One would think that 100% concurrence from neighbors on the street would be required. It is sad that this was not the case in 2014.

  • Jenny Gibbers


    Makes sense. Talked to a guy who hunts like this and he seemed knowledgeable and also mentioned that some of those deer end up at the food bank.

  • 40yearsinreston

    Where do I sign up for some free venison?

    • Waste not want not

      Any night. Here is how to sign up:

      Prereqs: flares, sharp knife, heavy gauge plastic, empty freezer, ax
      1. Clean out your car trunk and garage
      2. Set your alarm clock 3:30 am
      3. Head down lawyers rd, west ox or gtown pike
      4. Spot the roadkill
      5. Set your flares if needed
      6. Line your trunk with plastic
      7. Bleed, skin then cut up the carcass
      8. Put it in the trunk
      9. Drive home and freeze


      The cops will thank you for clearing the road ways and your family will pay their respects at supper time.

  • Greg

    If the statement on exclusive access is accurate, then the RA should sell the land, not grant an easement.

    Williams/Transco currently has a 135-foot-wide easement to their pipelines, but they are requesting more easement so they can add additional equipment, such as valves. If this request is granted, Williams/Transco will have exclusive access to the allotted parcel of land.


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