Tips: The Comprehensive Sign Plan (CSP)


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Most counties and municipalities develop plans to ensure excellent quality of life for their residents, business owners and community organizers. A well-planned community provides universally compatible land uses, as well as transportation networks, public facilities and parks.

A Comprehensive Sign Plan (CSP) is a method to guide decision-making about the natural and built environment by the county’s Board of Supervisors, and others such as the Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals. CSPs are implemented when additional signage is required by a property owner outside of specifications detailed in Article 12 of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance. Only proposed properties zoned in "P" districts such as but not limited to the PDC, PDH, PRM or PT can develop at CSP. All other districts would need to request a Special Exception for additional signage required outside the zoning ordinance.

It makes sense to plan, but often the process is daunting. It takes a lot of time to develop to have these plans approved. It takes experienced professionals (like us!) as your guide to develop, detail and prepare the plans. It also takes a significant amount of money to have them processed by the county. Over the last decade we've developed several CSPs for our clients and no one plan is ever the same. Here are some things to keep in mind if you're beging the CSP process.

  • Work with a signage design firm (like us!) who has experience putting these plans together.
  • Bring in a Land Lawyer to help guide the process and advocate on your behalf with your local county officials. We've had great experience with McGuireWoods or Walsh Colucci.
  • Understand the process. These types of projects usually take 12-24 months to complete. Really.
  • Think ahead: Add everything into your CSP that you would ever imagine doing, even if you may not do it immedately. After a CSP is in place the only way to make adjustments is to amend the CSP through the CSPA process which is another costly and time intensive process.
  • Have your properity's most recent site plan with easements, property lines and sight lines ready and available. If they are not you can typically gather this information your county's headquarter offices.
  • Have all decision makers at the table. If they cannot be there make sure they understand the process and timeline required for any changes down the road.

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