This story has been updated, please see below. --Editor.
How high and how bright. Those two issues may dominate future discussions of signage in Arlington County if last night’s Planning Commission meeting is any indication of future political discussions.
The commission considered whether or not businesses should be able to post any signs on their walls or rooftops over 40 feet from the ground and whether those signs would be lighted at night. They also considered just how brightly the signs could be lit and what colors could be used to light them.
No final decision was made since the county board gets the final say.
If the Arlington County Board approves an advertisement for public hearings at its June meeting, the Planning Commission will take comment on July 9, and the Arlington County Board will follow on July 21 with public testimony and a vote on the changes.
Some of the changes that may be considered:
- Signs above 40 feet would not be able to directly face Washington D.C.’s “Monument Core” (the Mall and memorials) or the various memorials and hallowed spaces in Arlington: the Marine Corp. Memorial (Iwo Jima), Arlington National Cemetery, the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon, and the Air Force Memorial on Columbia Pike.
- Jumbotrons near Metro stations can be considered.
- Residents may be able to shine a light on the street number of their houses so that the number is easily viewed from the street.
- People can post temporary signs on places like telephone poles for the purposes of directing others to an event or to ask for help finding a lost pet.
- Signs placed over 40 feet above the ground may not be lighted at all or may have to be turned off in the evening.
- Temporary directional signs for commercial activity may be placed on the weekends into the median strips of roadways or in the landscape strips on the roadside.
Another element that the commission considered was the idea of grandfathering. The basic question asked whether a company should be forced to improve a sign. The commission leaned toward “yes” especially given that current rules allow signs to be “refaced” in perpetuity. That is a company can change the name on a sign over and over each time a new client leases a space in the building. The company would not have to change the size, shape or luminosity of the sign to fit the latest rules. The board will have to consider how to handle that, too.