Planning Commission Bylaws

Arlington County Planning Commission

Adopted Bylaws

September 7, 2022 

Article I – Purpose 

  1. The Arlington County Planning Commission (“the Commission”) was established on March 3, 1956, by resolution of the Arlington County Board (“County Board”).
  2. The Commission’s purpose is to promote the orderly and equitable development of Arlington County (“the County”) and its environs and to advise the County Board on that subject.
  3. The Commission is governed by the Code of Virginia.

Article II – Members

  1. The Commission shall consist of up to 15 members.
  2. Membership shall be consistent with the Code of Virginia.
  3. Members shall be qualified by knowledge and experience to make decisions on questions of community growth and development.
  4. Members of the Commission shall be appointed by the County Board for a term not to exceed four years. The County Board may reappoint members for additional terms.
  5. When a term is not completed and a vacancy on the Commission results, it shall be filled by County Board appointment for the unexpired portion of the term only.
  6. The County Board may remove members for malfeasance in office. The County Board also may remove members without limitation in the event that a member is absent from any three consecutive monthly hearings of the Commission or is absent from any four monthly hearings of the Commission within any 12-month period.

Article III – Officers

  1. There shall be two officers of the Commission, a chair and a vice chair.
  2. Election of officers shall be held at the final regular Commission meeting of each calendar year.  The newly elected officers shall take office on January 1 of the succeeding year.
  3. Elected officers shall serve in this capacity for one year.
  4. The Vice Chair shall preside in the absence of the Chair.  In the absence of both, the members shall elect an acting Chair from among those members present.
  5. If the Chair vacates the office prior to completing his or her term, the Vice Chair shall assume the office and serve the remainder of the term.  A new Vice Chair shall then be elected at the next regular meeting to fill out the remainder of the term for that year.

Article IV – Meetings

  1. The Commission shall hold at least one regular hearing every two months and may schedule one or more special meetings or work sessions each month.  For the purposes of accounting for meetings attended consistent with applicable electronic meetings policies and statutes, any carryover hearing held is counted as a new hearing.
  2. Special meetings of the Commission may be called by the Chair or by any two members upon written request to the Chair. Notice of a special meeting shall be given in accordance with Section 15.2-1418 of the Code of Virginia. Written notice of a special meeting is not required if the time of the special meeting has been fixed at a regular hearing or all members are present at the special meeting or file a written waiver of notice.
  3. The Commission shall prepare and adopt an annual schedule of regular hearing dates at its first meeting following the meeting at which the County Board adopts its annual schedule. The Commission’s schedule shall be coordinated with the County Board’s schedule so referrals of reports and plans to the County Board can be timely.
  4. A quorum shall be required for the Commission to hold an official hearing and to take action on any matter before it. A majority of the members entitled to vote shall constitute a quorum. No action of the Commission shall be valid unless authorized by a majority vote of those present and voting.
  5. In the absence of a quorum, the members present may discuss matters on the agenda and report the discussion to the Commission for action.
  6. The right of the permanent or acting Chair to vote, if he or she so desires, shall not be questioned.
  7. No member shall vote on a subject in which he or she has a financial interest or other conflict. The State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act applies to all members.
  8. In the case of major differences of opinion among members, the minority shall have the right to file a separate report to accompany the majority recommendation or action.
  9. Members of the Commission and its committees may participate electronically in its meetings when they do so in accordance with the Code of Virginia, and any applicable adopted policies of the Commission pertaining to electronic participation in meetings.  
  10. All persons interested in speaking on an agenda topic at a Planning Commission hearing must sign-up 24 hours in advance of the noticed hearing, in order to be guaranteed an opportunity to speak at the requested date and time. 
  11. Individuals may elect to speak for in their individual capacity or as a representative of civic or community organizations representing the interest of Arlington residents (e.g. civic associations, building tenants, ad hoc coalitions, County advisory commissions, etc.). Individuals will be allowed to speak for a maximum of three minutes, and organizational representatives for up to five minutes.  
    Limitations may be placed on the amount of speaking time given to all speakers when lengthy public testimony is anticipated. For example, when there are 40 speakers or more for one agenda item, the speaking time will be two minutes for individual speakers and three minutes for organizations. Any such limitations will be announced by the Chair before public testimony begins.


Article V – Committees

  1. The Commission shall have three standing committees: the Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC), the Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) and the Zoning Ordinance Committee (ZOCO).
  2. The Chair of the Commission shall appoint all standing committee chairs.
  3. The Planning Commission may create additional committees, as it deems necessary.
  4. For matters that come before the Commission where committee jurisdiction is not obvious, the Commission Chair shall assign these matters to the Committee of his or her choice.
  5. The SPRC shall provide for the review of special exception site plan applications, for the purpose of advising the Commission when such applications are subject to public hearings of the Commission. The SPRC shall provide a public forum for reviewing and commenting on such applications.  For each special exception application, the Commission may establish a specific SPRC Sub-Group as a distinct public body for the purpose of conducting public meetings to review the project and provide input to the Commission, with membership comprised of members of the Commission (of which one will serve as Chair of the Sub-Group), other County Board appointed advisory commissions focused on site plan related matters, and members of the broader community.
  6. The LRPC shall advise the Commission on matters coming before the Commission related to land use, urban design, long-range plans, the Comprehensive Plan, and the General Land Use Plan. When the matter being reviewed warrants it, the Commission may establish a specific LRPC Sub-Group as a distinct public body, with membership comprised of members of the Commission (of which one will serve as Chair of the Sub-Group), other advisory commissions, and the broader community.  
  7. The Zoning Ordinance Committee (ZOCO) shall review and advise the Commission on all proposed zoning ordinance amendments.
  8. In addition to similar permissions noted above, at the option of its chair, a committee of the Commission may draw upon one or more citizens of Arlington County who are qualified to help with particular assignments.
  9. For meetings of any Committee (or its Sub-Group), three (3) members (including at least one Commission member) physically assembled at the primary meeting location shall constitute a quorum.
  10. For any committee Sub-Group created by the Commission, the Commission shall approve or adopt the roster of that Sub-Group at a monthly Commission meeting prior to the first meeting of that Sub-Group.  If the representative (and alternate, if applicable) for a stakeholder group on an adopted roster are unable to attend an LRPC or DPRC sub-group meeting, the chair or president of the respective organization may designate, in writing to the Sub-Group Chair, an additional alternate from the same organization with the same powers and authority as a representative or alternate on an adopted roster. Whenever an alternate from a County Board or Manager-appointed commission or committee is identified in this manner, they may count towards meeting quorum.
  11. For any Committee or Sub-Group created by the Commission that has not adopted its own electronic meetings policy, the policy of the Commission shall apply. 

Article VI – Records

  1. All meetings of the Commission and its committees are subject to the Freedom of Information Act and the Public Records Act. A record of the transactions shall be kept of all meetings of any type. After approval by the Commission, these records shall be entered in the Commission’s Book of Minutes and placed on the Commission’s website, as a public record. When a scheduled meeting is held and a quorum is not present, the discussions shall form a report only and shall be filed with the other Commission material.
  2. The votes of the members shall be recorded by name.

Article VII – Publicity

  1. No release to the public media shall be made unless it has the Commission’s approval or unless the Commission has authorized the Chair to make an appropriate release to the public.

Article VIII – Amendments


Article IX – Parliamentary Authority

    1. In all matters of parliamentary procedure not specifically governed by these Bylaws or otherwise required by law, the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order (Newly Revised) shall apply.