Working Group Dives into Enforcement and Oversight Issues on Lakes, Boats and Docks

A working group tasked by Reston Association’s Board of Directors to review policies concerning lakes, boats and docks is calling for stricter enforcement of rules and precise language to manage the use of Reston’s lakes.

RA’s lack of consistent enforcement of rules and residents’ lack of knowledge about the association’s governing policies have led to some confusion about the permissibility of uses over the last two years. Reston residents raised several issues about enforcement, outdated policies and environmental impacts two years ago.

After months of discussions and two focus group meetings, the workgroup presented its recommendations to the board on Thursday (May 24). Staff will now analyze the group’s recommendations and return to the board with its assessment of the recommendations in June.

An attempt to increase the maximum percentage of cluster waterfront that can be taken up by moored boats did not gain traction with the workgroup. The contentious issue — which some residents said unreasonably applies rules that RA has not strictly enforced in the past — was left largely undecided. No vote was taken on whether or not to lower or eliminate the boat storage limit, which is currently 50 percent.

The Harbor Point Unit Owner’s Association challenged the 50 percent rule on the grounds that it was unnecessary and contradicts, “Reston’s core values of live, work and play.”

“It is unfair for Reston Association to have adopted the 50 percent rule quite some time ago, not enforce it, and now all of a sudden begin to enforce it,” the association wrote in a statement.

Others said RA needs to step up its efforts to educate Restonians about policies related to boats, docks and lakes. One Harbor Point resident said she did not see any mention of the 50 percent rule in home resale documents when she purchased her condominium unit.

RA may need to turn to volunteer “Lake keepers” to help address monitoring and enforcement issues like permit inspections, boat maintenance and the safe operation of boats. The group suggested RA work with volunteers to patrol lakes, monitor conditions and work with residents to report violations and address problems.

Much of the discussion centered around updating outdated definitions.

The report encourages RA to adopt U.S. Coast Guard definitions for the maximum size of deck boats, as well as restrictions on boat motors that have a forward thrust of 130 pounds or a maximum rating greater than five horse power.

The group also directed RA to clarify the definitions of docks and boats. Residents can take advantage of current definitions, which can be used interchangeably, the group noted.

In the report, the group also asked RA to differentiate between hand-carried boats and permanently moored boats. RA currently does not distinguish between the two categories. The board also recommended a maximum of two boats per lakefront property for mooring seasonally.

In an effort to step up enforcement of violations, the group also recommended that staff board boats if permits are not clearly visible. However, the group removed language that stated RA staff could request proof of residency.

Commercial uses of the last must be approved by RA’s board, including boats rented by RA members to non-members, the group recommended.

The complete report is available online.

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