Thursday, November 11, 2010

Facts about Bishop O'Connell's Lighting Proposal

Bishop O’Connell High School is seeking a permit to install lights on its athletic fields, a change that would have a profound and negative impact on our quiet community. The lights could bring hundreds of additional cars to our neighborhood, taking our parking and blasting noise from loudspeakers until 11 p.m. every night of the year.

Facts about the request

•    O’Connell is seeking to install 13 light poles -- each pole 70 to 90 feet high -- to light its athletic fields and hold events late at night.
•    Many residents were unaware of this major proposal until we received a form letter from Arlington County in September, just days before it was to be voted on by the County Board.  And even today, many of our neighbors know little, if anything, about it. (The County Board has delayed the vote until Dec. 11).
•    These are not just “Friday Night Lights.” The use permit would allow O’Connell to have events as late as 11 p.m. every night, 365 days a year.
•    Other high schools in our area have strong and successful athletic programs without having lights, including T.C. Williams in Alexandria. The schools and local governments have respected the wishes of their neighbors who do not want lights.
•    O’Connell plans to increase the capacity of its football stadium from 1,100 to 1,400, potentially bringing more people to our neighborhood for every event.
•    The lights would bring hundreds of additional cars to our neighborhood at a time when our kids are often playing outside.
•    O'Connell is removing 50 parking spaces to make room for the larger stadium and plans to have 6 loudspeakers closer to neighboring homes.
•    Hundreds of outsiders will end up parking in our neighborhoods, taking our parking and creating commotion in nighttime hours.
•    The biggest impact of the lights will be the additional traffic and commotion around our homes, potentially every night of the year.

We know very little about O’Connell’s plans

Many of us are troubled by the inadequate information that O’Connell has provided to the county and the neighborhood about the plans.

•    O’Connell has not said how many nighttime events will be held each year.
•    O'Connell has an agreement with Marymount University and is pursuing one with the county Department of Parks and Recreation, but has not revealed details of how often Marymount or the county will have events at the school, potentially bringing hundreds of college kids to our neighborhood.
•    There’s been little detail about the additional noise or light pollution on our neighborhood -- from events that could go as late as 11 p.m.
•    There’s been no study about the impact of hundreds of additional cars in our neighborhood, particularly the impact it will have on parking. It’s possible that cars from O’Connell events could make it difficult for us to find parking . . . many nights a week.

If you are as concerned as we are...

We need your help!

•    Stay informed through our blog, No Adverse Impact (named after the county standard for use permits):
•    Write the County planning department and tell them you are opposed to the lights because they will harm our wonderful neighborhoods and affect the safety of our families.
•    Send an e-mail, letter or call your County Board members (Board Chairman Jay 
Fisette, Vice-Chairman Chris Zimmerman, Barbara A. Favola, J. Walter Tejada, and Mary Hughes Hynes and tell them you are opposed to the lights!

The following email will reach all board members:

Or write to them at: 
Arlington County Board

2100 Clarendon Blvd. Suite 300

Arlington, VA 22201

TEL 703-228-3130
FAX 703-228-7430

•    Write or call the Arlington County Planning Division:

Arlington County Planning Division
2100 Clarendon Boulevard,
Suite 700
Arlington, VA 22201
(703) 228-3525

Or email to Tom Miller, planing coordinator (

* Volunteer to help us distribute information. Contact Ruth Shearer at

Helps us preserve our neighborhood!