Fairfax County Enhances Sign Regulations

Published on
11/22/2023
Langley High School Electronic Sign

 

The Board of Supervisors has approved revisions to sign regulations within the county. Building on the content-neutral approach introduced in the Part I Zoning Ordinance Amendment, Part II included a comprehensive review of sign policies.

Electronic Display Signs

One of the main changes to the regulations includes increasing the maximum nighttime brightness of electronic display signs in planned, commercial and industrial districts from 100 nits to 300 nits.

No changes were made to signs located in residential districts, which continue to be limited to 100 nits. In addition, any electronic display sign within 150 feet of a property developed with a single-family dwelling is limited to 100 nits, unless the display is not visible from the residential dwelling. These nit limitations apply to all existing electronic display signs.

Staff will continue outreach efforts to educate property owners and tenants on these limitations, as signs exceeding these maximums may be subject to enforcement.

Other Key Updates

  • Consolidation of the comprehensive sign plan (CSP), special exception (SE) and special permit (SP) sign applications into a unified SE application type, featuring revised review criteria and new submission requirements.
  • Removal of the interpretation applying size limitations for signs in or adjacent to reserved parking spaces, such as electric vehicle charging spaces or mobile pickup parking spaces.
  • Allowance of a four-square-foot illuminated or electronic window sign.
  • Requirement for subdivision signs to be located solely at major vehicular entrances within an easement recorded for signage purposes or a common area.
  • Permission for multifamily buildings to opt for building-mounted signage instead of a freestanding sign.
  • Allowance of any number of drive-through use ordering boards (up to 20 feet in size).
  • Reduction of the appeal timeframe for minor signs.

Background

The Board of Supervisors initially amended sign regulations in the Zoning Ordinance in 2019, responding to the United States Supreme Court’s Reed vs. Town of Gilbert ruling. Starting in December 2021, staff engaged in outreach and education efforts, clarifying existing regulations and seeking community feedback for considerations in the Part II Amendment. These changes reflect staff expertise and industry input to align with evolving best practices.

Murals

While not part of the amendment, the topic of art and murals was raised during outreach on the sign regulations. If you plan to paint a mural, contact the Zoning Administration Division at 703-324-1314 to ensure it is not subject to the sign regulations.

Mural

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