Monday, February 28, 2011

Petition drive hits 500 signatures!

The petition drive against the lights has reached a major milestone -- 500 signatures!

The petitions, signed by Arlington taxpayers, indicate strong opposition to Bishop O’Connell’s application for stadium lights. In addition, the Williamsburg and Arlington East Falls Church Civic Association have both  voted overwhelmingly against the lights.

The petitions will be presented to the Arlington County Board when the private school’s application is considered. That is currently scheduled for March 12.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hey, O'Connell! Follow the precedent set by Kevin Fay!

We found something interesting the other day: a Sun Gazette article from 2007 about how the Fairfax County Park Authority had reached an agreement with McLean Youth Soccer to install synthetic fields at Spring Hill Park.

Kevin Fay, of McLean
The article caught our eye because the county agreed to build the fields without lights because of neighborhood opposition. No lights can be built for at least eight years, according to the agreement.

The article had a picture of several people “celebrating” the agreement to build the fields without lights -- including Kevin Fay, a member of the Fairfax County Park Authority.

Fay, a Washington lobbyist who lives in McLean, also happens to be the head of Bishop O’Connell’s board and has been the school’s primary spokesman for the campaign to install stadium lights in our neighborhood.

We like the way Fay respects the wishes of his neighbors in McLean!

So we have a simple request for O’Connell: Follow Kevin Fay’s precedent! Respect the neighbors!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Neighbors appeal O'Connell zoning decision

Neighbors of Bishop O'Connell have filed an appeal with Arlington County over the zoning decision last summer that said O'Connell could renovate and expand its athletic fields without needing a use permit. The decision allowed O’Connell to undertake a major renovation of its facilities while needing only a use permit for lights.

The appeal, which was filed with the Board of Zoning Appeals this week, says that O'Connell misled the county and the neighborhood about the scope of the renovation and expansion project and that the neighbors weren't properly notified. The appeal says that the County decision was "based on incomplete and inaccurate information" provided by O'Connell.

The appeal says that the increased hours of usage of the new fields, together with new users such as Marymount University and others, should have triggered the need for a special use permit.

"It defies reason to exempt O'Connell from such requirements for one of the largest construction projects to be conducted in our residential neighborhood in its history," the neighbors say in the appeal.

The neighbors’ new filing challenges a Feb. 2 decision by County Zoning Administrator Melinda Artman, who rejected the claim because it was not made within 30 days of the zoning decision last summer. In the appeal, the neighbors say they were not notified of that decision and that they did not receive proper notice until Jan. 10, when the earlier determination of the Zoning Administrator was posted on the County’s website.

The appeal says that O’Connell has repeatedly misled the county and the neighborhood about the scope of the project. “In its one-paragraph June submittal, the school said only that it was seeking ‘the installation of synthetic turf on their existing field surfaces.” This submittal constituted the entirety of the information available to the Zoning Administrator when he made his determination,” the appeal says.

The school has since said that it was seeking major improvements to its fields including redevelopment and expansion of the soccer field, the relocation of the baseball field, the elimination of 60 parking spaces, the demolition of the existing track and its expansion,  and the construction of major ancillary structures such as new bleachers, press box, storage, concession building and restrooms.

But “none of this information was available to the Deputy Zoning Administrator when he made his decision,” the appeal says.

You can read the appeal on the next page.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Opposition gets stronger; petition drive tops 460 signatures

With just over a month until the Arlington County Board votes on lights at Bishop O'Connell, opposition is getting stronger.

More than 460 Arlington residents have signed petitions against the lights. The signatures come not just from people in the immediate vicinity around the private school, but from throughout Arlington.

The additional signatures will be presented to the Board later this month.