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County officials debate allowing bigger, brighter electronic signs

A sign outside Tysons Corner Center (via Google Maps)

Fairfax County is examining its signage rules to possibly allow bigger and brighter electronic signs.

Staff discussed the matter yesterday (Tuesday) during a Board of Supervisors’ land use policy committee meeting.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust questioned the goal of the review, which has been underway since March 2019, according to a staff report.

Staff told him the county’s existing ordinance is old and shopping centers want to be competitive. Casey Judge, with the county’s Zoning Administration Division, suggested that easing an application process could help businesses too.

The county has proposed simplifying and consolidating three application processes into one for nonresidential areas.

“We have an awful lot of sign pollution already,” Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross said. “I’m really concerned about some of this.”

She noted that even signs within buildings, such as lighted “open” signage, can distract drivers and other road users.

Businesses are also already allowed to install electronic signs in residential areas, according to the county.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, the committee’s vice chair, said his office has received complaints about existing electronic signs in residential neighborhoods.

Alcorn said he’s not as concerned if a sign is in the middle of a commercial district, but he wants to find out more about how to manage issues near or adjacent to neighborhoods.

The committee’s chair, Sully District Supervisor Kathy Smith, directed staff to return with further recommendations for the board to consider.

A draft of changes could be developed this summer or fall. Public hearings are tentatively expected this winter or in early 2023 on any modifications to the county’s rules.

Photo via Google Maps

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