Arlington County Board Accepts Updated Fairlington-Shirlington Neighborhood Conservation Plan

  • Civic association led eight-year planning effort
  • Residents cited traffic, transportation management as top concerns
  • County staff to work with association, residents to identify priority improvements

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Board today accepted the Fairlington-Shirlington Neighborhood Conservation Plan, a community-based update to the area's 1987 plan that identifies needed services and improvements for these distinctive neighborhoods.

“Neighborhood Conservation is planning from the ground up,” said Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada. “The program reflects the County's belief that no one understands what a neighborhood needs better than the people who live there. The County Board thanks the residents of Fairlington-Shirlington for working for eight years to produce this thoughtful, realistic plan to help ensure this area of the County will remain a great place to live for decades to come.”

The Board voted 5 to 0 to accept the plan update.

Fairlington-Shirlington, unique Arlington neighborhoods

To qualify for funding under the County's Neighborhood Conservation (NC) program, neighborhoods must first develop a Neighborhood Conservation Plan. The Fairlington-Shirlington plan covers approximately 338 acres of the Fairlington-Shirlington area, located in the southern corner of Arlington County and surrounded by Alexandria. The two very different neighborhoods are separated by I-395.

Fairlington, with 8,000 residents, feels like a small town. It began as a publicly financed defense housing complex built for defense workers and their families during World War II.

Shirlington, with about 1,500 residents living in high-rises, is a mixed-use, walkable village with vibrant ground-floor retail. Once a swampland, the area became a shopping center that thrived until the early 1960s, when retailers began moving out to suburban malls. In 1996, Federal Realty Investment Trust transformed Shirlington into today's commercial urban village.

Residents call for more services, neighborhood improvements

The Fairlington-Shirlington Neighborhood Conservation Plan Update has 35 recommendations; 21 are services-related requests; 14 are neighborhood improvements. In the coming year, County staff will be working with the association and residents to help identify priority improvement projects for funding.

Neighborhood goals include:

  • Protecting the community from traffic impacts.
  • Supporting cooperation and coordination between Arlington County and the City of Alexandria on issues affecting the quality of life in the FSNC area, such as traffic, transportation, and development.
  • Fostering and maintaining our sense of a cohesive, sustainable community.
  • Maintaining the community's reputation as a pedestrian-friendly and bike-able neighborhood.
  • Maintaining street trees and open spaces and adding to them where possible.
  • Maintaining public infrastructure.

“This Plan Update provides us with the opportunity to expand the numbers of residents getting the benefits of the NC Program,” said Ed Hilz, long time Fairlington-Shirlington Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee Representative, Fairlington Citizen Association (FCA) Treasurer and lead person of the update effort. “Now we look forward to implementing some of the recommendations that are in the Plan.”

The priority projects list will be forwarded to the Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee (NCAC), a committee that oversees the Neighborhood Conservation program, for consideration. Twice a year, the committee recommends qualified projects to the County Board for approval of funding.

Plan developed through community dialogue

The Fairlington Citizens Association (FCA) began the dialogue with residents from the Fairlington-Shirlington Neighborhood in 2004. The community engagement effort included a 10-page survey with open-ended questions mailed to 6,071 households. Some 881 households responded. The responses were assessed, compiled and reflected in the Neighborhood Conservation Plan Update. With assistance from the County's Neighborhood Conservation staff, the association wrote and approved the plan last year.

Visit the County website to read the staff report on this item. Scroll down to Item # 32 on the Arlington County Board Agenda for the April, 20, 2013 Regular Meeting.


Arlington County created the Neighborhood Conservation Program in 1964 to encourage and empower residents to come together to discuss and share ideas on what improvements are needed for their neighborhoods. Neighborhood Conservation Plans are created under the Neighborhood Conservation program.

Funding for Neighborhood Conservation projects comes from General Obligation Bond Referenda. Since the program's inception, Arlington County has spent $61.4 million on neighborhood conservation projects that have helped beautify and strengthen neighborhoods across the County, making them some of the most desirable in the nation. Through Neighborhood Conservation, every neighborhood in Arlington has received improvements that include street, gutter and sidewalk repairs and additions, beautification projects, better street lighting and more.

Learn more about Arlington County's Neighborhood Conservation Program.

Arlington Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the “10 miles square” parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. Slightly smaller than 26 square miles, it is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, and one of only a handful with the prized Aaa/AAA/AAA bond rating. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods and quality schools, and has received numerous awards for Smart Growth and transit-oriented development. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world — including the Pentagon — Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.