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
Fairfax County officials say archery “has been shown to be a safe and effective deer management tool to control deer populations on public and private lands in Fairfax County and other high-density jurisdictions.” Fairfax has been using bowhunters for deer management since 2010.
Parks and land near Reston include Fred Crabtree Park, Little Difficult Run, Difficult Run and Waples Mill Meadow. See a full list of locations on the Fairfax County website.
In 2013, the county archery program culled more than 1.000 deer. The county says 848 were killed by bow and arrow. Since Virginia began tracking hunting injuries in 1959, no injuries related to archery have been reported by bystanders anywhere in the state, Fairfax County officials said.
Archers are approved to hunt at assigned sites Monday through Saturday during legal hunting hours, 30 minutes prior to sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset through Feb. 21. Florescent orange and yellow signs are posted wherever managed hunting activity takes place and archers must stay 100 feet from property lines and 50 feet from established park trails.
Reducing the deer population cuts down on thousands of deer-vehicle collisions that occur in Fairfax County each year, as well as the spread of diseases such as Lyme disease, says county police chief Edwin Roessler.
“Reducing the number of injuries and fatalities that result from deer-vehicle collisions is one of the primary goals of the deer management program,” Roessler said in a news release. “Deer management is an integral part of creating a culture of safety in Fairfax County.”
Meanwhile, private homeowners on Sourwood Drive in Reston may also be hunting on their properties soon. In late June, Reston Association approved the three homeowners’ request to hire a private deer management company to cull deer. The homeowners were concerned about the deer population damaging property and harboring potential Lyme Disease-carrying ticks.
The Reston hunt was supposed to be OK for this deer-hunt season, but an RA spokesman said insurance and other final paperwork has not yet been finalized.
RA says it will discuss its overall deer policy in a meeting later this month.