Monday, Jun 13, 2016

Arlington County Proposes Changes to Site Plan Process and Conditions

Generic Graphic of Plans
Source: Susan Lynch

In response to increasing competition for private investment from neighboring jurisdictions such as Tysons and the District of Columbia, Arlington County is undertaking a number of initiatives to make its development process more business friendly.

As part of this effort, key changes to the County’s standard site plan conditions are currently being proposed. Changes are also proposed to Administrative Regulation 4.1, the regulatory document that guides the site plan submission and review process in Arlington.

Site Plan Conditions

The proposed changes to the site plan conditions are primarily intended to be technical rather than substantive in nature. Examples include eliminating unnecessary language and outdated standards, reorganizing the order of some conditions, and deleting references to plan submission requirements that should be handled at an administrative level.

At some point in the future, the County hopes to make further changes to remove many of the more technical standards and requirements identified in the conditions. Such requirements frequently change and would therefore be more appropriately addressed in a separate public facilities manual or administrative regulation.

Administrative Regulation 4.1

Many of the changes proposed to Administrative Regulation 4.1 are intended to make the site plan process more efficient and less costly for applicants. A prominent example is having the director of the Department of Community Planning, Housing, and Development, rather than the County Manager, accept applications. This would decrease the wait time between filing an application and commencement of the public review process. Another example is reducing the number of plan sets required for submission from 20 full-size sets to eight. This would significantly reduce an applicant’s printing costs, which can accrue rather quickly in Arlington.

Perhaps the biggest change to Administrative Regulation 4.1 is the creation of an optional conceptual site plan review process. This process is intended to give early feedback to applicants on threshold issues such as required streetscape dimensions, building placement, massing, and density before significant design costs are incurred. It would also identify key issues in a development proposal that could be rectified or addressed prior to commencement of the public review process, thereby avoiding potential opposition and costly design changes.

County Staff hopes to have the new conditions and Administrative Regulation 4.1 document implemented in the coming weeks.