Photo: Todd Freimuth
The Planning Commission recommended that the county board change regulations and no longer allow new signs on building walls more than 40 feet above the ground. Another recommendation would force all signs that do not fit county regulations to become compliant with the new regulations more quickly.
This flies in the face of the developers and corporations in the county that wanted to place signs along the rooflines of some of Arlington’s tallest buildings.
They argued that the signs would be a beacon for economic development, that other corporations would see the signs as proof that Arlington was business friendly. The Planning Commission was wooed more by people who said the signs would be an eyesore, especially if viewed from federal lands such as the Air Force Memorial grounds on Columbia Pike.
The vote last night was the final step for the commission which has been working to change, simplify and improve the county’s sign regulations for the past 18 months (related story). The height recommendation was one amendment to a county staff report that runs 148 pages. The report includes all of the proposed new regulations for the county’s “sign ordinance.”
In a late-night vote, the commission also approved amendments to: allow letter-sized “Lost Cat” signs in the county; allow campaign signs 31 days ahead of any scheduled election whether it is government- or party-run; allow the county manager to limit the luminescence of lighted signs; allow A-Frame style or “sidewalk” signs for non-commercial uses in the medians of boulevards.
The A-Frame amendment would be part of the ordinance’s new “Seven-Day Sign” rules that would allow non-commercial signs (such as for church pot-lucks or civic association meetings) to be placed in public right-of-ways. The proposed rules only allow signs similar in size to real estate “For Sale” signs or campaign signs. (Sidenote: Yard Sale signs are commercial and subject to commercial-use rules.)
The A-Frame amendment raised by Commissioner Inta Malis aimed at allowing civic associations to do what they already do anyway, she said. Since some community groups and civic associations already use A-Frame (sandwich board) signs, the attempt was to make them legal.
Commissioner Charles Monfort argued that the commission and various committees worked a long time to figure out where and when “A-Frame” signs could be used. Adding a use last-minute would complicate things.
He also wondered how tightly the ordinance was going to be enforced, especially regarding a civic association sign. If a civic association broke the rules, would it get cited?