Zoning Studies

The Arlington County Permit Office is CLOSED for in-person customer service. Many services are available online. Learn more.

The Zoning Ordinance contains the land-use regulations for all land in the County. From time to time the Zoning Ordinance is amended to ensure that land use and development regulations meet the needs and goals of the community. Amendments begin with a zoning study, which examines various standards and regulations (ex: zoning districts, uses, setback, etc.).

Study Name Tentative Completion Date Status
Multifamily Reinvestment Study Q1 2023 In Progress
Missing Middle Housing Study Q4 2022 In Progress
Implementation for Clarendon Sector Plan Update April 2022 Complete
Pentagon City Sector Plan Implementation February 2022 Complete 
Columbia Pike Form Based Code – Ground Story Uses November 2021 Complete
Clarendon Revitalization District Maximum Height Limit Map June 2021 Complete
Affordable Housing Building Height April 2021 Complete
Columbia Pike Form Based Code – TDR Multiplier March 2021 Complete

 

Studies in Progress

Multifamily Reinvestment Study (MRS)

Building on recommendations from the HCD Policy Framework and supplemented by additional economic and form-based modeling, staff will develop zoning standards to incentivize HCD property owners to complete context-appropriate renovation, addition, infill, and redevelopment projects not currently possible in exchange for dedicated affordable housing units. Staff will explore administrative and use permit review processes to facilitate the creation of new affordable housing, tailoring the review process to account for the scale of proposed changes and potential impacts to historic buildings.

Staff will evaluate opportunities to integrate townhouse development into HCD development projects and reassess the provisions of ZOA-2017-06 to determine whether the reclassification of townhouse development as a special exception site plan use in RA14-26, RA8-18, and RA6-15 zoning districts within HCD boundaries should be continued, repealed, or modified moving forward. Staff will also analyze the ramifications of the bonus density ZOA approved in November 2019 and any influence the new regulations would have on the viability of the HCD conceptual framework.

Staff Contact
Nick Rogers
703-228-0035

Study Resources

Schedule
TBD


Missing Middle Housing Study

Staff will explore how missing middle homes could help address Arlington’s limited housing supply and inadequate housing choices. Barriers to building missing middle housing impede the County’s ability to increase its overall supply of housing and provide more choices at a broader range of price points.

In addition to establishing a shared definition for the term ‘missing middle’, the three-phase study aims to 1) determine how new housing types can help address the shortage of housing supply in Arlington; 2) locate where new housing types could be compatible with existing neighborhoods; and 3) identify what strategies could be employed to mitigate any negative impacts.

Staff Contact
Kellie Brown
703-228-3524

Study Resources

Schedule
Currently, staff is presenting a draft scope of work for review and comment to several commissions and advisory boards. View schedule.

  

 

Completed Studies

Completed 2022 - Clarendon Sector Plan Update Implementation

The 2006 Clarendon Sector Plan sets forth a vision and goals for the area around the Clarendon Metro Station as a walkable destination with a quality public realm, accessible and connected places, and a rich mix of uses. The Arlington County Zoning Ordinance was amended in 2008 and 2009 to establish zoning standards to ensure that private development would closely adhere to the detailed policy guidance in the 2006 Sector Plan. 

Although Clarendon has developed in the past 16 years in accordance with the adopted Sector Plan, several of the Plan's recommendations have yet to be realized. These include the redevelopment of key sites south of Washington Boulevard, the relocation of Fire Station 4, and the establishment of a new public park to serve the nearby community. To evaluate the Sector Plan's specific recommendations for individual sites, considering whether the adopted recommendations remain aligned with the Sector Plan's broader goals and policies as well as current real estate development dynamics, the County has undertaken a study to consider updates to the plan. The Clarendon Sector Plan Update study has incorporated an evaluation of existing zoning standards within the study's scope to ensure that any updates that are made to the 2006 plan are concurrently implemented in the Zoning Ordinance. 

Staff Contact
Brett Wallace
703-228-3798

Schedule


Completed 2022 - Pentagon City Sector Plan Implementation

This amendment established the Pentagon City Coordinated Redevelopment District (§9.6) with the intent of encouraging mixed-use development of office, retail, hotel, and multifamily residential uses within the Pentagon City Sector Plan's study area in accordance with the vision, goals and objectives for the Plan. Special provisions were incorporated into the RA6-15 and C-O-2.5 zoning districts to enable increased building height and development density for properties with this zoning that are located within the Pentagon City Coordinated Redevelopment District. The County Board, through site plan approval, may approved increased height of up to 350 feet in certain locations and may approve increased density up to 9.0 FAR in C-O-2.5 and up to 150 dwelling units per acre in RA6-15 for projects which demonstrate conformance to the Planning Principles, applicable policy guidance, and development framework encapsulated within the Pentagon City Sector Plan.  


Completed 2021 - Columbia Pike Form Based Code - Ground Story Uses

The County Board adopted several amendments to the Columbia Pike Form Based Codes (Commercial and Neighborhood Codes) to implement increased flexibility for ground story uses as recommended in the 2019 Columbia Pike Commercial Market Study. This flexibility is intended to enhance the commercial retail market along Columbia Pike as it continues to transition from an auto-oriented suburban corridor to the Main Street, walkable experience envisioned in adopted plans.

Among other amendments, the Board’s action added breweries, distilleries, urban agriculture, and shared commercial kitchens as new, permitted land uses for the ground stories of Form Based Code projects. Uses which were already permitted by County Board use permit approval along the FBC’s main street frontages, such as art galleries and offices, are now permitted by-right. Minimum transparency standards were modified to suit the privacy needs of day cares and medical offices, and “legacy sites” – existing commercial properties which have not yet redeveloped using the FBC development standards – are now eligible for the same ground story uses as FBC projects.

Staff Contact

Nick Rogers
703-228-3525

Schedule:


Completed 2021 - Clarendon Revitalization District Maximum Height Limit Map

This amendment revised the maximum height limit map in the Clarendon Revitalization District as specified in §9.2.5, Map 1 to reflect changes in building height and form for an amendment to Site Plan #438 (Clarendon West). The changes lowered the overall height of the building and provided more gradual height transitions with the surrounding neighborhood. The height transition zone on the maximum height limit map where the tapering requirement applies was replaced with the stepped heights as shown in the site plan amendment.

Staff Contact
Kevin Lam
703-228-6982

Schedule

Completed 2021 - Affordable Housing Building Height Study

This zoning study’s purpose is to enable more flexible development standards for multifamily residential projects that provide significant contributions to Arlington’s supply of low- or moderate-income housing. The study’s scope is focused on the RA14-26, RA8-18, and RA6-15 zoning districts.

The study’s objectives are to provide the County Board with broader authority to approve site plan applications with increased building height above the existing maximum height standards for development projects that provide 100% of the dwelling units as low- or moderate-income housing. The County Board could use this authority when it finds that the proposal is appropriate for the area and complies with County plans and policies. Staff has included, within the scope of the study, an option for the County Board to utilize this authority for projects with a lesser percentage of affordable dwellings upon determining that the overall project would be in conformance with the County’s Affordable Housing Master Plan; an element of the Comprehensive Plan.

This study represents an initial phase of the broader Multifamily Reinvestment Study, which includes work focused on incorporating additional standards for new development within Arlington’s 12 Housing Conservation District areas. The Multifamily Reinvestment Study is anticipated to be completed in FY22. This effort is part of the larger Housing Arlington initiative, which among other purposes, seeks to preserve existing market-rate affordable housing and create opportunities for new committed affordable housing when redevelopment occurs.

Staff Contact
Nick Rogers
703-228-3525

Study Resources

Schedule:

Completed 2021 - Columbia Pike Form Based Code - TDR Multiplier

This amendment to the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Form Based Code (N-FBC) reinstated Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) provisions which had expired via sunset clause in 2020. The provisions enable a density bonus at receiving sites for N-FBC development projects of three times the amount of dwelling units which are preserved as Committed Affordable Units (CAFs) at the sending site. The density bonus can be used on other receiving sites outside of the Columbia Pike corridor for two times the amount of dwelling units which are preserved as CAFs.

Staff Contact
Melissa Danowski
703-228-7931

Schedule: