Form Based Code

The Columbia Pike Form Based Code (CPFBC) is a development approval process designed to make Columbia Pike development decisions simple and the Columbia Pike development entitlement process short as well as predictable for all stakeholders (Owners, Investors, Neighbors, Businesses, Planners etc.). FAQs A Form Based Code Advisory Working Group (FBCAWG) composed of County staff and community members has been established to collaboratively discuss and review the FBC from a technical perspective to ensure that it is a clear, discernable, and useful document that implements the vision for Columbia Pike.  Click here for more information about the Form Based Code Advisory Working Group schedule and to find summaries of the meetings.  To access the Form Based Code document click here.

The CPFBC is made up of three parts.  The parts deal with 1.) Property location; 2.) Building form and use; and 3.) Architecture (the dress code).  For most properties the code amounts to seventeen pages of pictures, graphics and clear explanations of what can be done under the code.

Property Location: The CPFBC includes Regulating Plans that are maps of each of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Districts.  The maps indicate what type of building can be built on any location within a district.  The map also provides information such as where to find the Required Building Line (the place at which the front of the building must be placed).  Tree and streetlight lines are also shown as well as the minimum parking set-back.

Building Form and Use: The Building Envelope Standards in the CPFBC include specifications for height, fenestration, siting and use for a building on any given piece of property in a Revitalization District.  Height is determined by stories rather than feet.  As a result floor to ceiling heights for the ground floor of a Mainstreet Building on Columbia Pike can run between 15’ minimum to 24’ maximum and include a mezzanine.  Upper floors can run between 9’4” minimum to 14’ maximum.  Such flexibility with interior heights gives the developer latitude in responding to his or her market segment.

The Architectural Standards are, most simply put, the dress code for Columbia Pike.  They deal with recommended materials and configuration of building walls, roofs and parapets, doors and windows.  They indicate where and how high street walls should be.  They include guidelines for signage, lighting and the placement of mechanical equipment.  They do not demand a particular architectural style.The Streetscape Standards cover trees, landscaping, sidewalk dimensions, civic squares and greens, open space and such in a clear, straight-forward manner.

Developers who choose to use the CPFBC as their development process can expect an expedited approval process between 30 and 60 days.  A project with a property under 40,000 sq.ft. and building footprint under 30,000 sq.ft. may submit for approval through the 30 day
By-Right Option process.  This option involves no mandated public hearings. The staff administrative process is in place to verify that the project abides by the CPFBC.  For projects over the square foot maximums listed above, the code requires a 55 day Special Exception/Use Permit Option.  Once again, the permit process is in place to ensure the proposed project abides by the CPFBC.  This process involves public hearings before the County Planning Commission and the County Board. Finally, developers who opt for use of the CPFBC within a Revitalization District are eligible for significant County investment through the Columbia Pike Economic Incentives.  Through a variety of programs Arlington Economic Development is prepared to work with developers to bridge feasibility gaps that may exist on Columbia Pike.


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