Zoning Ordinance Archive

The Arlington County Zoning Ordinance (ACZO) has been amended many times since zoning regulations were first adopted in 1930. Previous versions of the Zoning Ordinance document are available for reference and informational purposes. Any earlier version of the Zoning Ordinance has been superseded and replaced by the County Board’s adoption of the current Zoning Ordinance.

Ordinance Eras

1930 – The First Zoning Ordinance 

Adopted on April 26, 1930, this was Arlington’s first foray into zoning and land use regulations.  The ordinance only had six zoning districts, which mainly regulated the location of various types of uses with simple regulations on setbacks and building height.


Adopted on May 16, 1942, this version of the Zoning Ordinance was in many respects a precursor to the ordinance adopted in 1950. The number of zoning districts expanded to 13, and each district was classified by a unique designation in a format which continues to this day (i.e., R-5, R-6, C-1, C-2, M-1, M-2, etc.). This ordinance also marked the first appearance of minimum lot size and width requirements, provisions for off-street parking, regulations on commercial signage and special exception use permits.


This version of the ordinance is the “most lived-in.” Adopted on July 15, 1950, this zoning ordinance is the longest running and most amended version to-date. While carrying forward most of the innovations from the 1942 version, such as lot size, parking and sign regulations, this version of the Zoning Ordinance resulted in the advent of the site plan development process, the Columbia Pike Form-Based Codes, unified residential and commercial/mixed-use developments, and residential cluster developments. When first adopted, there were 15 zoning districts. By 2010, the number of zoning districts had expanded to 38, including zones for parks and open space, public and civic facilities, and specialized districts for developments in the Rosslyn-Ballston and Richmond Highway corridors.

2013 – Reformat

In Dec. 2010, Arlington initiated a comprehensive study to re-organize and modernize the ordinance. The result of this study was the current “re-formatted” version of the ordinance. While the changes to the ordinance were largely organizational, provisions to categorize various uses and regulations for short-term uses were added.