At the March 15 Arlington Board of Supervisors meeting, the board voted 3-1 to deny a special use permit request from Bishop O’Connell High School to install lights on their athletic fields as part of their ongoing efforts to renovate the fields. The school had requested permission to install 11 light poles – seven for its baseball field and four on a rectangular field, which would not operate on Sundays.
The hotly debated issue brought many members of the public, school officials and students out to the meeting to argue both for and against the lights. The Arlington county manager, Barbara Donnellan, had proposed that the request be deferred to allow for more research to be conducted on the impact that installing the NCAA-regulation lights would have on the neighborhood surrounding the school, but the board instead denied the O’Connell request, with board member Jay Fisette casting the single vote of approval, with the stipulation of deferral. Board member Barbara Favola recused herself from the discussion early in the meeting due to her position with Marymount University, because of a conflict of interest. Marymount and Bishop O’Connell have a partnership that allows for the university to use the high school’s fields. O’Connell has the option to resubmit the request in a year.