Public Hearings Set on Standards for Requesting Historic Preservation

Published on November 18, 2017

The Arlington County Board will hold a public hearing on establishing standards for requesting historic preservation overlay studies at its December 16, 2017 County Board Meeting. The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal at its December 4, 2017 Meeting.

The Board voted unanimously, in adopting the Consent Agenda, to advertise the public hearings.

Staff developed the changes in response to concerns raised regarding the current,  informal process for requesting initiation of historic preservation overlay district studies. The goal is to improve the process without unnecessarily burdening the public's ability to request historic preservation overlay district status for historic properties.

The proposed amendments would change the timeframe required to inform a property owner of an historic preservation overlay district study request, and tie such notification to the acceptance of a completed application. The amendment would create a uniform and predictable process for such requests.


Currently, a single individual may file a designation request for any number of properties, without any background materials or forms required. Some requests, particularly for large acreages or many properties, are both time-consuming to process and have not always been submitted in consultation with affected property owners.

The proposed amendments were discussed by the County's Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board in an October 18, 2017 public hearing. The proposed amendments provide the following:

  • A request for local historic district designation must be made on a County application form.

  • The application form will require specific documentation, including narratives pertaining to physical descriptions and historical significance, plus photographs and bibliographical references.

  • The application also will establish a multi-step internal review process prior to scheduling a public hearing with the HALRB.

  • For multi-property designation requests, the new amendment will limit who may apply for or request a historic preservation overlay district to:

  • Civic Associations, Home Owners Associations, or Condo Boards for properties within their own boundaries; or

  • Petitioners with documented support of 25% of properties in a defined area. One property would count as one vote (so if four trustees owned a property, only one vote counts).

  • For individual properties, historic preservation overlay requests will be limited to Arlington residents or property owners.

  • The HALRB, Arlington Public Schools (APS), and the County Board retain authority to initiate studies and recommend designations as they can do now.

After adoption of the amendment, staff will finalize the application form. This form will be available on the County website and via paper copy in the Historic Preservation Program's office, located in the County's Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development.

To read the staff report on this Request to Advertise, scroll down to Item No. 36 on the agenda for the Saturday, November 18, 2017 Regular County Board Meeting.