This document is meant to document the existing practices and procedures of the Transportation Commission, in cooperation with other County entities. It is meant to inform the public, staff, and members of the Commission about how the Commission ordinarily does business. Occasional deviations from these practices may occur under special circumstances, and improvements may from time to time be made, without formal amendment of this document.
Advising the County Board . Matters expected to come before the County Board that substantially implicate transportation policy will generally be heard by the Commission so that it can render its advice to the County Board. These items include, but are not limited to, the following (unless they have no transportation implications):
Master Transportation Plan amendments
Other Comprehensive Plan amendments
Right-of-way acquisitions and vacations
Transportation grants and funding requests
Form-based code amendments
Site plans (including PDSPs)
Major site plan amendments
Automobile parking policies
Unified commercial developments (UCDs)
Use permits affecting transportation (such as school construction)
Code and zoning amendments (including advertisements)
Capital improvement programs (CIP)
County budget resolutions
Excluded items. The Commission will generally not hear the following matters (even if they have transportation implications), unless directed by the County Board, or otherwise determined by the Chair in consultation with the County Manager and the Board Liaison.
Unified residential developments (URDs)
Minor Site Plan Amendments
Form-based Code applications
Other matters. The Commission may choose to advise the County Board on its own initiative on any other matter affecting Arlington transportation policy.
Advising the County Manager on Taxi matters. The Commission holds hearings on matters related to taxi policy to advise the County Manager. The County taxi ordinance governs these matters.
Non-preparation items. At times, the Commission will hear items as information without further action, decision or advice. For these items, Commissioners will ask questions, but no further action is usually taken. These matters include, but are not limited to:
Activities of staff to implement County policy
Activities of regional transportation bodies
Updates on preparation items that are not yet action items
Items raised by members of the community at public comment
Preparation items . In some cases, the Commission will hear items as information in order to prepare to act on them later. In such cases, Commissioners will ask questions and state preliminary opinions, and the Chair will often assign one or more Commissioners to attend future meetings on the item on behalf of the Commission. It is the preference of the Commission to hear preparation items as soon as it is practicable to do so. These matters include, but are not limited to:
Major site plan amendments
Long-range and comprehensive planning efforts (e.g. Public Spaces Master Plan)
Staff-generated policy proposals that the Board will eventually act on.
Items raised by members of the community at public comment
The Commission meets at least once before each regular meeting of the County Board: ordinarily three Thursdays before the Saturday County Board meeting. Carry-over meetings are generally scheduled for the following Thursday. The Chair, in consultation with the Commission, the staff coordinator, the County Clerk, and the Liaison, sets the Commission schedule as soon as the County Board's schedule becomes available. The Commission also has an organizational meeting near the start of each calendar year (where it determines the annual work program required under its charge), and also holds work sessions as needed throughout the year. The annual schedule of the Commission is posted on the County website, and notice of each meeting is provided in accordance with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act and County policies.
The Chair, in consultation with the Staff Coordinator and the Liaison, determines the agenda of the Commission.
The Agenda will ordinarily be finalized no later than 48 hours before the meeting, and preferably a preliminary agenda will be made at least one week before the meeting.
The first item on the agenda for ordinary meetings of the Commission is usually for citizen comment on items not on the agenda.
As soon as is practicable, a copy of the agenda will be placed in a public location in the County office building, as well as on the County website. Staff will make reasonable efforts to inform interested parties related to each agenda item, including applicants, civic associations and members of affected County committees whose work is being heard. Changes to the agenda, once publicized, will be noted on any revised agendas. If an item is added or subtracted from the meeting agenda less than 48 hours before the start of the meeting, additional efforts will be made to ensure reasonable notice to interested parties.
The Chair may, with the consent of the Commission, hear items on the agenda out of order.
Written staff reports are generally delivered to members of the Commission through the staff coordinator at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting. When a staff report is not delivered to the Commission at least 48 hours in advance, the item is no longer considered an action item unless a majority of Commissioners present vote to proceed otherwise. Applicants are expected to meet subsidiary deadlines given by the staff coordinator in order to ensure that their materials are presented to the Commission in a timely manner.
All meetings are conducted in accordance with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. All written materials and e-mails sent to Commissioners with substantive discussion of agenda items are typically made available to the public, and staff will try to provide copies to the public in a reasonable manner upon request.
At the start of each meeting, the Chair and/or staff coordinator will give instructions about how to sign up to speak at a meeting.
The staff coordinator will call each item on the agenda in turn, upon the Chair's request, and announce the number of speakers who have already submitted speaker slips.
If the item is a proposal by a private applicant (as opposed to a staff proposal), the applicant will present first, followed by staff and/or citizen representatives of County committees. Otherwise, staff will make the initial presentation.
After applicant and staff presentations, public testimony will begin. In order to speak, a member of the public must fill out a speaker slip with his or her name and address, the number of the item he or she is speaking on, and whether or not he or she is the representative of an organization. The list of speakers will close when the first speaker is called, and no more speaker slips will be accepted without the consent of the Chair. Speakers will be timed and compliance with the time limits is required. Speakers will be permitted a maximum of 3 minutes to speak, however an organization may select one person to speak on its behalf for a maximum of 5 minutes. The Chair may determine that circumstances associated with an item, such as the large number of speakers, the lateness of the hour, and the like, require the time limits to be reduced for all speakers. Speakers may not donate their time to another speaker. At the request of the Chair, the Staff Coordinator will call each speaker in the order that speaker slips were submitted, also announcing the next speaker, so they may prepare to speak. A speaker who is not present when his or her name is called will not be permitted to speak later.
After all presenters and public speakers have concluded, the public hearing will be closed and the discussion is confined to the Commission, except that Commissioners may ask questions of staff, any applicant, or another person present.
In the sole discretion of the Chair, members of the public may be allowed to ask questions or make comments after Commission deliberation has started. If there are a large number of citizens present, the Chair may ask one citizen to act as a conduit for the collected questions/comments of the entire group.
Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised, govern the Commission's deliberations, unless suspended or modified by the Commission or Commission Chair in consultation with the Commission, or as required by law or County policy.
The Chair, in consultation with the Commission, will appoint representatives of the Commission to other committees, bodies, functions, meetings, and events as appropriate, as well as appoint the chairs of any Commission Committees.
Unless otherwise determined by the Commission, all committees of the Commission are open to all members of the Commission. If the membership of a committee is restricted to a smaller number, the Chair, in consultation with the Commission, will determine its members no less often than annually.
Only the Chair or the Chair's designee(s) is/are authorized to speak on behalf of the Commission with regard to Commission business and actions of the Commission. All other comments of Commission members with respect to Commission business and actions are – and should be presented as – the personal views of the member.
One member of the Transportation Commission is also a member of the Planning Commission, as designated by the County Board. This individual assists both Commissions in promoting coordination and harmonious interaction.
The County Board usually designates a member of the County Board to be the Liaison to the Commission. Official communications between the Board and the Commission on matters of Commission organization will generally be made between the Chair and the Liaison. Official guidance from the County Board to the Commission may also be relayed to the Commission Chair through the County Board Chair, the Liaison, County Clerk or the County Manager or his or her designee.
Also, the Chair (with appropriate assistance from the staff coordinator and members of the Commission) will write a letter to the Board transmitting the Commission's recommendations (including minority views, if any) on each item considered by the Commission. The letter includes, at a minimum, the pertinent information contained in the minutes, i.e. the names of Commissioners present for the item and the results of all votes taken. The letter also provides any background, explanation, or other information that would be helpful in understanding the deliberations or recommendation of the Commission, such as a description of public comment and staff recommendations before the Commission. All persons connected with the preparation of letters will endeavor to send them promptly to the County Board, in order to make them as useful as possible to the Board. Copies of all letters will be put on the Commission website as soon as is practicable after they are sent.
For each item on the County Board's agenda on which the Commission has rendered advice, the Chair will attempt to ensure that a representative of the Commission is present to present the views of the Commission and answer questions from the County Board. All Commissioners are encouraged to volunteer for this duty on a rotating basis.
All members of the Commission are encouraged on their own initiative and on an informal basis to keep members of the County Board generally apprised of matters of mutual interest, and to seek information, where appropriate, regarding the County Board members ' interests and concerns as they relate to transportation.
Commission members are also encouraged to be in close and regular contact with staff, particularly Transportation Division staff, on all matters to which they have been assigned as well as any other matters related to Arlington Transportation policy.
The Commission's staff coordinator is designated by the County Manager (or his designee) to assist the Commission in its work. Commission members are encouraged to involve (and are strongly urged to at least inform) the staff coordinator and the Chair in any communications with other County staff. The staff coordinator is also a resource to all Commissioners who have questions about County operations.
A primary function and purpose of the Commission is to provide the County Board with advice that is informed by public perception of an issue. Commissioners are expected to be in contact with members of the public on a regular and ongoing basis to informally discuss matters of public concern related to Arlington transportation policy. In particular, Commissioners are encouraged to advise members of the public how to most effectively and helpfully interact with County staff and the County Board on matters related to transportation. Nonetheless Commissioners interacting with the public should make clear that they represent their own views only, unless authorized by the Chair to represent the Commission.
As an advisory body to the County Board, the Transportation Commission should avoid being a focus of media attention. Commission meetings are open to the media, and may be audio and video recorded so long as it is not disruptive to the conduct of the public business. The Commission should be notified before recording starts. Otherwise, official contact with the media should be limited and directed by the Chair in close consultation with the Liaison.
In general, the Commission will seek to have a designated Commissioner brief the County Board when the Board is considering any item on which the Commission has provided formal advice. The Commissioner's presentation should include a statement of the Commission's position, including the rationale of the position, a general description of the discussion, and a fair description of any significant minority viewpoint. Commissioners should avoid simply reading the Commission's letter, but instead efficiently provide the Board with the context of the Commission's views and highlight the key issues the Commission focused on. In particular, the presentation should identify any areas in which County staff or an applicant did not accept the Commission's recommendations, or where the Commission rendered advice on a novel or controversial question.
When representing the Commission before the County Board, a Commissioner sits at the table designated for Commissioner reports (to the left of the podium) during those portions of the meeting where items related to the Commission are discussed.
Commission members are required annually to file financial disclosure forms with the County Clerk. Commissioners who have not filed their financial disclosure form may not vote.