Photo: Steve Thurston
Sign Ordinance Added to List of Big Ticket Items at County Board’s July Meeting
The July Arlington County Board meeting looks like it may be a long one. Last night, the board agreed to advertise a long list of changes to the county sign ordinance. Advertisement means the ordinance goes to public hearings in July before the board makes final amendments and accepts some or all of the ordinance at its July 24 meeting.
On Saturday, the board agreed to advertise the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan, which will determine the direction of the Pike over years to come. That plan faces public scrutiny in July with a vote at the July board meeting, too.
If that weren’t enough, next week the board will take public testimony on the Capital Improvement Program, a ten-year planning document for the county. They will vote on that plan at the July meeting and will also vote on language for the various bond referenda that voters will consider in November. The bonds help pay for various capital improvements listed in the CIP.
Public comments for the sign ordinance and the Columbia Pike plan will be heard at the Planning Commission meetings and at the county board meeting. The board will hold an official public hearing on the CIP on June 26. No further public comment will be taken after that (sign-up here).
The advertisement adopted last night was particularly broad, on purpose. By law, the board may only adopt language that is within the “scope” or range of the advertisement. A broad advertisement allows the board to choose from more options.
Sign rules regulate just about anything with words or pictures on it that sits on the sidewalk, is planted in a median, hangs from an office or waves in the breeze. The current rules and the proposed revisions cover how large a sign can be, whether it can be lighted (and how brightly), where it can be placed (and for how long), and if people can see it from their front porches, cars, or national parks.
Signs include the numbers on the front of a house; the tarps that surround construction projects (if words or pictures adorn the tarps); the “lost cat” flyers stapled to utility poles; paint on retail stores’ windows; and banners stretched across the front of apartment buildings explaining the obvious -- “If you lived here, you’d be home by now.” Signs also include the more pedestrian storefront signs, sandwich boards and marquis.