Arlington County is preparing to fight a legal challenge to its commercial sign ordinance — the first such challenge since the creation of the ordinance.
County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac says the county has a number of arguments to counter the lawsuit’s claims. The suit argues that regulators are infringing on a small business owner’s free speech by deeming a large mural painted on the side of her building a commercial sign and not artwork.
“I think it should be fairly apparent under the sign ordinance that this is a sign,” MacIsaac said. The mural is “clearly an effort to promote this woman’s business… to depict it as public art, I think, is a bit of a stretch.”
MacIsaaac said that the county’s sign ordinance is consistent with ordinances currently in place in other jurisdictions.
“Our sign ordinance is not unusual in any way,” he said. Arlington’s political sign rules were challenged just over 10 years ago, according to MacIsaac, but this is the first time someone has mounted a formal legal challenge to the commercial sign ordinance.
MacIsaac, the county government’s top legal counsel, added that the his office hasn’t officially been served notice of the suit, which was filed in federal court on Thursday. He expects the litigation to take about a year, and expected the county’s first court appearance to happen at some point this winter, perhaps February.
“We’re sort of in a wait and see mode right now,” MacIsaac said. “Right now we’re just assessing the case and waiting for the timeline to be established. This is going to be a process.”
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Please join us on Saturday, June 3, from 2 to 4 pm for the Glencarlyn Home Tour in Arlington’s historic Glencarlyn neighborhood. Among the featured homes will be a sparkling new home by A&N Builders at 5604-4th St. South. The inviting front porch opens to a light-filled space featuring high ceiling, wood floors, gas fireplace, Pella windows, Shrock cabinets, Quartz countertop, and JennAir appliances. Doors from the family room open to a large covered porch with a few steps to the level, landscaped rear yard. Upstairs, there are four bedrooms, three bathrooms, laundry room, and linen storage. The big lower level has a rec room, gym space, and a fifth bedroom and bathroom plus even more storage. After leaving the home, stroll to the Ball-Sellers home, the oldest residence in Arlington, the community gardens at the library, Carlin Hall, and the 94 acre Glencarlyn Park. A lovely way to while away a late spring afternoon.
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