Form Based Code Review Process

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

Redevelopment within Columbia Pike’s special revitalization districts is regulated by Commercial Centers Form Based Code (FBC) and the Neighborhoods FBC; alternative zoning tools that help realize Arlington’s vision set forth in the Columbia Pike Initiative – A Revitalization Plan and Neighborhoods Area Plan.  The FBC review process allows for more density and provides an alternative to the regulations included in the existing commercial and multi-family zoning districts. It may also provide a less intensive/expensive options than the Site Plan Review Process, should a property owner choose to request a General Land Use Plan change or a rezoning as part of a site plan application.

Review Process

The FBC application review process includes several steps, ensuring proper review, public process and compliance with applicable policies and ordinances.

Preliminary Review
This period represents the bulk of the FBC review process. Staff from multiple departments work with the applicant to ensure their development proposal is substantially compliant with the FBC and meets local and federal regulations.

Community Review
A review meeting is scheduled with the FBC Advisory Working Group to verify compliance with the FBC. A separate public meeting is also scheduled to present the development proposal to impacted civic associations.

Final Review and Action
Proposals move to this period when the application is submitted for final review and approval. Administrative applications are reviewed within 30 days and receive an approval letter from the Zoning Administrator. All other applications are reviewed as Use Permits; within 60 days of the final filing, and are presented at public hearings before the Planning Commission and County Board. Proposals are subject to change until the County Board approves the final plan.

FBC Conditions

FBC conditions ameliorate a project’s impact on surrounding properties and ensures that projects comply with County plans and policies, among other things. Staff monitors conditions during the course of construction and for the life of the project.

Special Exception Use Permit conditions are required for Commercial Centers FBC applications when:

  • Properties are larger than 40,000 sq. ft.
  • Applications requesting approval of a floor plate greater than 30,000 sq. ft.
  • Hotel uses with 7,500 sq. ft. or more of conference room or banquet facility gross floor area (GFA) are proposed
  • Any special circumstances including modifications and/or bonus height related to historic structures and historic façades are proposed
  • Any modifications of Commercial Centers FBC regulations are proposed

Special Exception Use Permit conditions are required for Neighborhoods FBC applications when:

  • Request is made for the approval of bonus stories
  • Request is made for transfer of development rights
  • Request is made for a Civic Building designation
  • Hotel uses with 7,500 sq. ft. or more of conference room or banquet facility GFA are proposed
  • Areas designated as a conservation area or adjacent to conservation areas are impacted
  • Request is made for partial infill development
  • Any modifications of Neighborhoods FBC regulations are proposed

Staff reviews FBC conditions annually to address changes in practice related to construction permitting, to correct any inconsistencies identified through FBC implementation and to determine whether any changes or additions approved by the Board for a specific project might be appropriate to apply to all FBC projects. This review is coordinated with the review process for standard conditions for special exception site plan projects.