County Board Amends Comprehensive Sign Plan Regulations

Published on October 15, 2016

  • Additional flexibility for older comprehensive sign plans

  • Amendment to Zoning Ordinance approved

The Arlington County Board today approved changes to the Zoning Ordinance that allow more flexibility for properties subject to older comprehensive sign plan regulations.

In response to concerns from property owners, the amendments will make managing older comprehensive sign plans less restrictive and cumbersome. The changes address comprehensive sign plans that were approved by the Board before July 24, 2012 and include signs that do not conform to current standards.

"This Zoning Ordinance revision can help businesses and property owners make the changes and property improvements they need with a new ease," said County Board Chair Libby Garvey.

The Board voted 5 to 0 to approve the amendments. Read the staff report for Item No. 21 on the Agenda for the Saturday, Oct. 15 County Board Meeting.

Update to 2012 Sign Regulations

On July 24, 2012, the County Board adopted comprehensive revisions to the County's sign regulations. The goals of that update were to refine the previous regulations to allow more flexibility in placement and types of signs allowed in order to facilitate creativity and innovation; allow for administrative approvals for most signs; codify consistent administrative practices not previously reflected in the Zoning Ordnance; and to address new standards and technologies.

While the 2012 update introduced a great deal of flexibility and administrative improvements, it did not fully address older comprehensive sign plans approved by the Board prior to the 2012 update. Signs that do not conform to current requirements have been challenging to revise and administer due to these restrictions.

In particular, specific complaints had stemmed from a comprehensive sign plan in Crystal City originally adopted in 1963 covering multiple properties.

Zoning Administrator to approve administrative changes

Today's Board action allows the Zoning Administrator to approve administrative changes to sign plans approved prior to July 24, 2012, that include signs that do not conform to current requirements, including

  • Adding additional signs, so long as the aggregate sign area does not exceed that allowed by the current regulations

  • Substituting new sign(s) allowed by the current provisions for existing nonconforming sign(s) on a square-foot-for-square-foot basis

  • Removing the owner consent requirement from the Ordinance in the case where a property seeks to install only signs allowed by the current Ordinance rather than those approved in a comprehensive sign plan

Community process

The Zoning Ordinance amendments were reviewed by the Zoning Committee of the Planning Commission, the Economic Development Commission and the Planning Commission as well as a number of other stakeholder groups including the Arlington Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Committee, and the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.

For more information, visit the Zoning Studies page on the County website.