The Arlington County government will embark on a fast-track review of zoning rules related to community swimming pools, hoping to wrap up work by the end of the year.
It would be a “more-expedited-than-usual” process, acknowledged County Board Chairman Katie Cristol, due in part to the ancient nature of the 1950s-era zoning rules that still regulate about a half-dozen non-government, non-residential swimming pools.
The quick pace – with public hearings and action completed by October or November – pleased County Board member Erik Gutshall.
“Hopefully this becomes a model – we have to be able to respond more quickly,” he said. “We absolutely want to consult with the community, but we need to move forward.”
The initiative was precipitated by plans of Macedonia Baptist Church to renovate and return to use a large pool in Nauck that had been owned by Veterans Memorial YMCA. The effort to get necessary governmental approvals appears to have frustrated church leaders, and led county staff to take a look at existing zoning regulations for pools.
The zoning rules, now nearly 70 years old, could “benefit from some additional flexibility,” said Nick Rogers, a planner with the government’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development.
“We are prepared to begin work immediately,” Rogers told County Board members on July 17.
The survey will look at issues such as setbacks, lot coverage, parking and screening. Any pools that end up out of conformance with any new regulations likely would find themselves grandfathered in.
Several County Board members said it was important to allow for versatility in zoning regulations, so individual issues could be addressed on an as-needed basis.
Out-of-date regulations seldom provide for that, Cristol said.
“We sometimes discover that our own tools are obstacles,” she said.