Stormwater Management Zoning Study
This study proposed amendments to existing zoning standards applicable to public stormwater management facilities to enable greater flexibility in their siting and construction. In addition, the Public Spaces Master Plan recommends modernizing zoning standards for more flexible public space master planning and development. The amendments were adopted in March, 2023.
The County is working to improve flood resilience in response to increasingly intense storms and flooding. The Flood Resilient Arlington strategy involves adding capacity to the system with stormwater facilities on public land.
- Locations may include parks and schools, if those locations are well situated to help reduce flood risk in a particular watershed.
- DES is primarily exploring the use of underground detention facilities, underground vaults, overland relief measures, and surface detention facilities to meet these needs. Many of these facilities could have open space or fields over them after construction.
- All DES capital projects include a robust public engagement process, following the County’s public engagement guide for capital projects. The potential updates to the zoning ordinance would not diminish that extensive public engagement for stormwater facility projects.
Land use regulations that differentiate how stormwater management can be accomplished based on zoning districts complicates the County’s ability to effectively manage stormwater runoff.
- Similarly to other public utility needs for clean water, sewage removal, and electricity transmission, the need for effective stormwater management is incumbent and present in all zoning districts and for all types of land use.
- Currently, the zoning ordinance restricts minor utilities in public districts (i.e., S-3A), and requires a use permit for major utilities. These restrictions are unique to the public districts, as minor utilities are permitted by-right, without County Board use permit approval, in residential, commercial/mixed use, and industrial districts.
Zoning requirements for setbacks create additional complexity in planning for, constructing and accommodating stormwater management facilities within parks and public spaces for maximum public benefit.
Improve Consistency: The Zoning Ordinance treats stormwater systems in publicly zoned districts (ex., parks, schools) differently when compared to how other zoning districts treat water utilities.
Add Flexibility: The current zoning standards do not readily enable the use of certain stormwater system components. The County would benefit from modernized zoning standards for more flexible public space master planning and development. As Arlington continues to grow, community needs and uses are changing and zoning regulations may need to be updated to respond to community needs for resiliency planning and park space.
Stormwater Master Plan (2014, page 5)
- Strategy 1—Reduce flooding risks to public and private property
- Strategy 2—Maintain and upgrade stormwater infrastructure
- Strategy 9—Initiate climate adaptation and resilience planning
The Public Spaces Master Plan (PSMP) adopted in 2019, recommends reviewing and considering updates to the County’s zoning regulations related to parks and public spaces in “S-3A” and “P-S” districts, and other County codes as needed (page 68).
- Parks areas along stream valleys have RPA and floodplain restrictions in addition to zoning setback regulations
- There is a public need to add parks to respond to population growth and meet community needs
- Updating zoning regulations could enable greater flexibility for the location of park amenities/features so that park planning/development can take the fullest advantage of innovative designs and best practices
| February 8, 2022
|| Civic Federation Flood Resilient Arlington Update
|| Flood Resilient Arlington Presentation to Civic Federation, (begins at 1:14:40)
|| Joint Civic Association Meetings in Critical Watersheds
|| Meeting information
| October 17, 7-9 PM, 2022
|| PSMP Implementation Committee
PSMP-IAC Virtual Meeting Video
| October 25, 7-9 PM, 2022
|| Parks and Rec Commission
| November 21, 7-9 PM, 2022
Meeting Presentation(PDF, 2MB)
| December 14, 7-8 PM, 2022
Stormwater Management Zoning Public Meeting
Meeting Presentation(PDF, 14MB)
| January 17, 2023 7 PM
|| Zoning Committee of the Planning Commission
Zoning Committee page
| February 18, 2023
|| Request to Advertise County Board
|| Meeting agenda, Item 22
| March 6, 2023 7 PM
|| Planning Commission Hearing
| March 18, 2023
|| County Board Hearing
|| Amendments were adopted