The Arlington County Board values the opportunity to engage with the public during our public hearings. The procedures that follow are intended to foster that engagement and detail how members of the public can propose items for inclusion on an agenda; determine items that will be given a public hearing; testify on agenda items; and testify on matters not on the Board’s agenda.
To ensure an orderly meeting, to assist all who wish to participate organize their time, and to have some expectation of when matters will be heard, we have various limits on the length of time one can speak, guidelines concerning when comments are taken on specific items, and when certain items are heard.
There are many other ways to engage your County Board, including the less formal Open Door Mondays.
A. Agenda and Materials
- Regular Meetings of the County Board are typically scheduled for Saturday and begin at 8:30 a.m. with the Public Comment Period (Section B below), followed by Regular Hearing items heard no earlier than 9 a.m.
- Recessed Meetings are typically prescheduled for Tuesday and begin at 3 p.m. with County Board Reports, Appointments, Regional Reports, and County Manager Reports, with the removed Consent Agenda items (Section C below) heard at 6:30 p.m. that evening and Regular Hearing items (Section D below) heard no earlier than 6:45 p.m. that evening. These meetings may be scheduled at other days and times as decided by the Board during the annual adoption of the calendar year meeting schedule at the Organizational Meeting held in January.
- The County Manager, approximately two weeks before the Regular Meeting, prepares a list of proposed agenda items for the Chair’s consideration. The agenda of every regular Board meeting is approved by the Chair. Any Board Member desiring to add additional items to the proposed agenda must submit them to the Chair at least eight days before the meeting.
- Members of the public may propose items to be included on the agenda by submitting a written request to the Chair at least two weeks before the Regular Meeting. The Chair decides whether the subject is one which can and should be considered as part of a Board meeting agenda.
- Agendas of upcoming County Board meetings are available for public review in the County Board Office no later than Monday, the week of the Saturday meeting, and are posted online. If the Regular Meeting falls on a day other than Saturday, the agenda will be posted on the County website six days prior to the meeting.
- Agenda materials are distributed to Board Members and made available to the public generally eight days before a Regular meeting, but not later than 72 hours in advance of a required public hearing. Additional “supplemental” materials are provided to the Board and public not later than 24 hours before the meeting. The Board may defer any item for which all relevant information has not been disseminated in the above-referenced manner.
The purpose of the Public Comment period is to alert the Board to topics that have not been the subject of a recent public hearing, or do not appear on a published agenda.
- The public comment period is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. at Regular Saturday Meetings.
- Speakers are limited to two (2) minutes.
- Only one speaker will be heard on each topic, but opposing views on the same topic will be considered two different topics. The Clerk shall have discretion, in consultation with the Chair as needed, to implement this procedure.
- In order to speak, a speaker must complete a speaker slip identifying the subject of the public comment and place it in the speaker slip box in the meeting room before the last speaker is called by the Clerk.
- Written materials presented at public comment must be given to the Clerk prior to speaking and will be distributed to the Board and will become part of the record. For distribution of hard copies to Board Members, the Board requests that eight copies be provided.
- Electronic materials must be emailed to the Clerk prior to speaking. Materials will be distributed electronically to the Board and staff and will become part of the record. Email materials and inform the Clerk prior to speaking.
- A Consent Agenda may be used for eligible items which may include public hearing items (such as site plan and use permit request; vacations; easements; encroachments; leases and other dispositions of public property; ordinances, plans and policies; etc.) and non-public hearing items, (such as County and Schools appropriations; grant applications; contracts; capital projects; advertisements of public hearing requests; inter-jurisdictional agreements; housing loans; minutes; etc.) These or other items can be recommended for inclusion on the Consent Agenda by the County Manager with the consent of the County Board Chair.
- The County Board, at the request of a member of the public, will remove any item for which a public hearing is required from the proposed Consent Agenda. Removal of items from the proposed Consent Agenda at a Regular Meeting will result in those items being automatically carried-over for full hearings at the associated prescheduled Recessed Meeting (usually the following Tuesday) as the first items to be heard no earlier than 6:30 p.m.
Only Members of the County Board may remove from the Consent Agenda an item for which a public hearing is not required. However, if information on a non-public hearing item is not posted 72 hours in advance of a Meeting, the Board will welcome a request from the public to have it removed from the Consent Agenda so that it can be considered at the same time and manner described above.
Those items not removed from the Consent Agenda will be acted upon by a single vote of the Board at that Regular Meeting.
The carry-over of removed items to the subsequent Recessed Meeting allows additional time for issues to be addressed before final consideration and action by the Board.
- Testimony and consideration of regular hearing items will begin no earlier than 9:00 a.m. or as soon thereafter as matters may permit, at Regular Meetings, and no earlier than 6:45 p.m. at Recessed Meetings.
- Regular hearing items are heard in the order in which they appear on the agenda. At the discretion of the Chair, the length of some public hearings may be limited, and some agenda items may be postponed until the Recessed Meeting, or taken out of sequence from the order listed on the agenda.
- Opening presentations by County staff and the applicant on any item will be limited to 15 minutes each. The order of presentations is as follows: 1) County staff; 2) applicant; 3) advisory group reports; and 4) public comments. At the discretion of the Chair, the amount of time for presentations or the order of such may change.
- Limitations may be placed on the amount of speaking time given to all speakers when lengthy public testimony is anticipated. Any such limitations will be announced by the Chair before public testimony begins.
- In order to speak, an individual must submit a speaker slip identifying the agenda item to the Clerk prior to the first speaker being called for that agenda item. Speaker slips may be downloaded online in advance of the meeting from the County Board homepage at www.arlingtonva.us/cbo but will not be accepted until the day of the hearing.
- Speakers will be called in the order in which the speaker’s slips are received. Speakers who are not present at the time their name is called forfeit their opportunity to speak.
- Speaker slips are valid only for the session of the meeting indicated and are not held over to another session or meeting, except for speaker slips for Consent Agenda items to be heard at Recessed Meetings (see Sections C.2. and D.2.).
- Speakers are not permitted to yield time to others; the person whose name is written on the speaker slip must be the person presenting testimony.
- Groups are encouraged to organize to minimize repetitious testimony. Individuals are also encouraged to associate themselves with the remarks of previous speakers where applicable.
- Oral presentations should not duplicate written statements which have been submitted to the Board in advance.
- Written statements presented at meetings must be given to the Clerk to be distributed to the Board and to become part of the record. (For distribution to Board members, the Board requests that eight copies be provided: five for the Board members, one for the record, one for legal counsel, and one for staff.)
- Individuals may elect to speak for a maximum of 2 or 3 minutes per agenda item. Representatives of civic or community organizations may elect to speak for a maximum of 2, 3, or 5 minutes, per agenda item. Two (2) minute speakers will be heard first, followed by 3-minute speakers, and, finally, 5-minute speakers.
- A speaker’s set-up time for the use of presentation equipment in the Board Room will be counted in their 2, 3 or 5-minute presentation. Whenever possible, citizens should notify the Clerk to set-up before the item is called or public testimony begins.
- You may also communicate with the County Board on agenda items by emailing the Board at: Countyboard@arlingtonva.us If received at least 24 hours in advance of the Board Meeting at which your item will be heard, these comments will be distributed to Board members as part of their meeting materials in advance of the meeting.
Testimony on Consent Agenda Items
- Section C.2 (link) details the manner in which items can be removed from the Consent Agenda.
- The Clerk will carry-over speaker slips submitted at Regular Meetings to the next prescheduled Recessed session and will call speakers, grouped by item, in the order the item appears on the agenda, and in the order in which the slips are received. All Consent Agenda speakers will be heard in one group before the Board begins discussion on each Consent Agenda item.
- Additional individuals may sign-up to speak on removed Consent Agenda items at the Recessed Meeting. Individuals must submit a speaker slip to the Clerk before the first speaker is called for the Consent Agenda hearing, which begins no earlier than 6:30 p.m. These speakers will be called after those who submitted slips at the Regular Meeting in the manner described above.
- Individuals and organizations are limited to a maximum of three (3) minutes to speak on all items on the Consent Agenda for which a speaker slip was submitted to the Clerk. (For example, if a speaker submits a slip to the Clerk indicating that they wish to speak on 2 items on the Consent Agenda, they will be called one time by the Clerk to speak for a maximum of three (3) minutes on both items.)
E. Motions and Other Rules of Order
1. Board members will place motions on the floor as quickly as possible to focus discussion.
2. Where no contrary procedures have been adopted by the County Board, Robert’s Rules of Order govern.
- At most Saturday meetings, the Board’s goal is to recess for lunch at approximately 12:30 p.m. At these meetings, the Board’s goal is to recess for the day at approximately 5 p.m.
- The Board’s goal at evening meetings is to recess no later than 11 p.m.
G. Closed Meetings
The only items which the Board may consider in closed meetings are those permitted by the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.
- Special meetings, work sessions and closed meetings may be held in addition to the schedule of Regular meetings and Recessed Sessions adopted at the Organizational Meeting held annually in January. Special meeting notification requirements are governed by the Virginia Code.
- The Organizational Meeting is held on or around January 2 each year at a time determined by the County Board.
- Translation services in Spanish are available at Regular Saturday meetings from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Please see the Clerk or Deputy Clerk to the County Board at the meeting for assistance. For translation services for Consent Agenda and Public Hearing items, which are typically heard later than 10:30 a.m., individuals are encouraged to call the Clerk or Deputy Clerk to the County Board at 703-228-3130 (TTY 703-228-4611) at least three (3) days prior to the meeting. Persons needing translation services in Sign Language or other languages are encouraged to call the Clerk or Deputy Clerk at least three (3) days prior to the meeting. Translation services are also available for recessed or special meetings if requested at least three days in advance by calling the Clerk or Deputy Clerk. Closed captioning and hearing assisted devices are available at County Board meetings.
- All County Board Regular and Recessed meetings are broadcast live by Arlington TV on Comcast Xfinity channels 25 (standard definition) and 1085, and on Verizon FiOS channels 39 and 40 and include closed captioning. Streaming video of the meetings is available for viewing online and on YouTube at the time of the meeting, and as an archived video on the next business day following a meeting. Archived meetings can be downloaded in audio or video format from the County Board website. Arlington TV rebroadcasts recent meetings throughout the month until the next meeting is held.