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.