Proposed change in zoning ordinance to increase permissible heights of new buildings in the Buckingham neighborhood for low or moderate income housing.

On Saturday, April 17, the Arlington County Board will consider at its virtual meeting a change in the zoning ordinance that will increase permissible heights by up to 60 feet (6 stories) for new buildings in RA8-18 zoning districts for site-plan development projects that provide 100% of the dwelling units as low- or moderate-income housing.  Almost all of the Buckingham Community Civic Association’s area is presently zoned RA8-18.

As a result, if approved, this change in the zoning ordinance can greatly increase incentives to redevelop our neighborhood to achieve greater heights and densities that are presently permissible.

The County Board recently approved an increase in height and density for project containing  a number of new committed low and moderate-income housing units in the BCCA area (the former Red Cross building at N. Trenton Street and Arlington Boulevard) with a RA8-18 zoning, despite the objections of BCCA and residents of the adjacent Arlington Oaks garden apartment condominium.

Several years ago, the Board approved a rezoning to increase heights and densities for a similar project that is now “The Springs” at the corner N. Thomas Street and N. Carlin Springs Road.  During the early 2000s, the Board approved the demolition of many of the BCCA neighborhood’s historic Buckingham apartments to increase densities for the same purpose.

The County Manager’s report for the proposed change in the zoning ordinance identifies a number of developers and affordable housing companies and organizations that staff contacted to inform them of the proposed change and to ask for their input.  

If you are interested in voicing your opinion about this matter, I suggest that you speak at the Saturday, April 17, County Board meeting.  You can register to speak at any time before the Board’s Clerk calls for public speakers on Saturday.

The proposed change in the zoning ordinance is Item No. 39 on the agenda for Saturday’s Board meeting.   The change is listed as:  

39.ZOA-2021-01. Amendments to Articles 12 and 15 of the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance (ACZO) to allow modifications of the maximum building height for multifamily residential development in the RA14-26, RA8-18, and RA6-15 districts by the County Board through its site plan approval authority for development projects providing 100% of the dwelling units as low- or moderate-income housing. 

Item 39 is the first regular hearing item on the agenda.  It therefore presently appears that the Board will begin to consider the proposed change shortly after 9:00 a.m. and probably no later than 9:30 a.m.  The April 14 County Manager’s report for Item No. 39 contains information about the change and the processes that preceded the Board meeting.

If you wish to speak at the virtual meeting, fill out the Virtual Regular County Board Meeting Signup form before the Clerk calls Item #39.  Check the box labeled “Regular Hearing Item”. After checking that box, a web page entitled “Board Meeting Testimony” will appear. Check the box labeled “Item #39”. You will then receive an e-mail message that acknowledges receipt of the sign-up form and which contains a link to the virtual meeting.

To view the meeting, click on  You can also view the meeting on television at Channel 25 and  Channel 1085 (high definition).

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