Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The Arlington County Board on Tuesday rejected Bishop O'Connell's request for stadium lights, telling the school that lights aren't appropriate for the school's residential setting.

By a surprise 3-1 margin, the board opted against County Manager Barbara Donnellan's recommendation for a fifth deferral of the issue and instead voted to deny the school's use permit.

Board member Mary Hynes said lights would be an "unsettling disruption" to the neighborhood. Chairman Chris Zimmerman said that although the county had a policy of lighting synthetic fields at county parks, there are places "where it would not be appropriate to have lights."

Hynes, Zimmerman and Walter Tejada voted to deny the permit. Board member Jay Fisette voted against the motion, but made clear it was based not on the merits of the decision but because the county staff had failed to do sufficient analysis of the proposal. Board member Barbara Favola recused herself because she works for Marymount University, which was going to underwrite much of the cost of the lights.

A major factor in the decision was O'Connell's failure to submit traffic and lighting studies that had been due six weeks ago. Although O'Connell officials said in their testimony that the studies had just been completed -- and, surprisingly, were favorable to O'Connell -- they were not available at the meeting.

County board members made clear that O'Connell is still free to renovate its fields.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

County Board to hear O'Connell proposal on March 15

The Arlington County Board has announced it will hold a hearing on the O’Connell light proposal on Tuesday, March 15, at 6:30 p.m.

The discussion had been scheduled for the meeting on Saturday, but it has been moved to the Tuesday night meeting. So far, it is the only item on the agenda.

The County Manager has not yet made her recommendation on the matter and it is not clear when the County Board will vote on it. Some county officials had indicated the vote could be delayed, possibly  until June. But the Board will hear comments about it on Tuesday night.

Residents of the neighborhood impacted by the proposal are encouraged to attend.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Favola will recuse herself; another delay likely

Barbara Favola, an Arlington County board member who works for Marymount University, has decided to recuse herself from the O'Connell vote.

Favola told us Tuesday that she realized Marymount's involvement was more extensive than she initially believed and that she felt she should recuse herself from the vote. She said she believed she could legally participate but that she felt it would be best to avoid the appearance of a conflict.

With Favola not participating, the lighting decision will be made by the remaining four board members, Mary Hynes, Walter Tejada, Jay Fisette and Chris Zimmerman.

Meanwhile, county staffers have indicated to us that it's likely the vote on the O'Connell matter, currently scheduled for March 12, will be delayed again. They say the private school has failed to meet deadlines to provide new studies on traffic and other issues. 

We'll know more details on Friday or Monday.