Having schmeered the all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors with more than $60,000 in campaign contributions, Bob Farren and his fellow investors behind the non-existent extremely minor league Loudoun Hounds baseball team expected smooth sailing for all the political favors they have been seeking in connection with their planned stadium.
Despite the best efforts of Chairman Scott York (R-At Large), Supervisor Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run), and free-bumper-sticker distributor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) to sell a skeptical citizenry about the wonders of the proposed stadium, it’s not quite working out as planned.
In particular, York put the rezoning and comprehensive plan amendments the new stadium location would require on a fast track that normal applicants are never entitled to. On Tuesday night the Planning Commission held its first public hearing on the proposals, and despite the Hounds offering free pizza and tee-shirts in the government building lobby as an inducement to its loyal fans, the hall was filled with very unhappy and very well informed neighbors who presented a strong case against the bum’s rush that York & co. have been trying to sell us on, on behalf of York’s close personal friend and government-junket-foreign-traveling buddy Farren.
In particular, they pointed out that—as the county planning staff have themselves now confirmed in their analysis— the new location for the proposed stadium was hastily conceived with shoddy planning and few particulars offered. Impacts on noise, traffic, lighting, and other concerns have failed to be addressed, the staff found.
But most interesting was that several Planning Commissioners indicated they were onto the dodge that Farren is up to—promoting as baseball what is really an event venue to be used for parties, rock concerts, and other noisy and lucrative events. One commissioner persisted in grilling the applicants about whether the team even existed as more than a bit of PR puffery—so that the stadium investors could pretend that anyone who is against their long list of political favors, rezonings, special exceptions, and amendments is “against baseball,” which is of course un-American.
“Who exactly are the Hounds?” he asked.”Are there any players? Have they played any games? All that I see is a very effective PR firm and some front office executives.”
York, Williams, and Higgins et al. have been trying to peddle this scam as well—suggesting the choice is, are we for or against “baseball.” But the commissioners treated that with the contempt it deserved. The issue is whether the applicants have made a case for a massive alteration in the comprehensive plan and all kinds of special goodies to bend the rules without regard for the impact on Route 7 traffic and noise and disruption to residents.
After a four-hour session, the Planning Commission voted to send the proposal back to an additional work session for further study.