County Board Approves Historic and Cultural Resources Plan Update

Published on November 14, 2023

On Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, the Arlington County Board approved an update to the Historic and Cultural Resources Plan (HCRP), concluding a multiyear process to develop a more modern approach to how the County advances the preservation and appreciation of its built and cultural environments.

Formerly known as the Historic Preservation Master Plan, the HCRP is an element of Arlington’s Comprehensive Plan and is the primary policy document guiding the County’s historic preservation goals and actions. As approved, the plan, which has not been updated since it was first adopted in 2006, expands how the County defines historic preservation.

The update acknowledges that both Arlington and the practice of historic preservation have evolved and offers an increased focus on partnerships, inclusion, and incentives. The updated plan’s five main focus areas—each offering complementary Equity Aspirations—will help advance the mission and effectiveness of the County’s Historic Preservation Program. The Equity Aspirations in the plan will help increase inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility, expanding access to local culture and history and representation of all Arlingtonians.

"This forward-thinking update expands historic preservation services to those who have not traditionally been served," Board Chair Christian Dorsey said. “In addition to recognizing the built environment for its historic and architectural value, this plan appreciates that places and landscapes matter because of the people and cultures they celebrate. With this plan, we’re elevating what historic preservation planning means."

WATCH: County Board Discussion

About the HCRP Update

The focus areas in the plan seek to:

  • Build an inclusive understanding and support for Arlington’s history, people, and places through Community Engagement;
  • Encourage financial and other benefits for historic preservation through Incentives;
  • Integrate historic preservation with other County policies and priorities and address the importance of cultural landscapes through expanded Partnerships;
  • Improve processes, create new tools, preserve new types of historic resources, and establish an Archaeology Program through Regulations; and
  • Expand and improve preservation-based Technology, Information, and Tools such as the Historic Resources Inventory (HRI) and other information systems.

The approved update proposes exploring a variety of potential tools and actions that would allow easier, faster, and more equitable access to County preservation services. The County will be able to better serve everyone by intentionally connecting historic preservation with other County priorities. The HCRP helps integrate the County’s efforts to identify, evaluate, document, and preserve its historic resources and heritage with the other Comprehensive Plan elements, including land use, affordable housing, economic development, public spaces, transportation, energy, and the environment.

More: Review the recommended update

About the Process

Arlington County began the process to update the 2006 plan in 2020. County staff changed the name from the Historic Preservation Master Plan to reflect a commitment to equity and inclusion. The first phase of the process focused on information gathering and analysis of past preservation successes and areas for improvement. The second phase, which began in winter 2021, prioritized public engagement.

Engaging with the community was a critical component of the HCRP update. In April 2023, County staff released an initial draft plan and offered both in-person and virtual engagement opportunities to hear community perspectives. An updated recommended draft that reflected community input was released in August 2023. In addition, the Planning Commission and its Long Range Planning Committee and the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board reviewed and made recommendations on the draft plan.

The updated HCRP will be supported by a separate implementation framework containing action and administrative items. It will outline the ongoing, short-, mid-, and long-term priorities for executing the plan and furthering historic preservation while considering County processes and resources.

In the coming weeks, County staff will finalize the plan as approved by the Board and post it to the County’s website. To learn more, visit the Historic Preservation Program webpage.

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