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Arlington County Civic Federation

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Synopsis: Best Practices

Presented to the Federation on January 7, 2004

The Task Force met over a period of one year to review the practices of civic associations across Arlington. Its primary conclusion was that formally recognized documents (bylaws, Constitutions and/or Articles of Incorporation) of governance are essential to a well-run, equitable association. The Task Force report is designed to assist existing organizations in making changes they view as important, to restart associations that have become defunct over time, and to assist those wishing to create a new civic association.

There are a number of purposes behind the governing documents. Among the most important are:

    1. To provide organizational guidance;

    2. To insure all members have the opportunity to understand expectations and obligations of the organization and its members;

    3. To reduce difficulties during times of dispute or disagreement;

    4. To provide flexibility for future needs;

    5. To insure inclusivity of the community, as defined by the bylaws or other governing document (i.e., owners and/or renters and/or businesses, etc.)

One of the major purposes behind the work of the Task Force was to solidify standards to be applied when the County Board asks Civic Federation assistance during a boundary dispute. Since the Civic Federation does not impose standards on its member organizations, the following is the ONLY binding (to the Federation) portion of the report.


    The Civic Federation, at the request of the Arlington County Board, has been designated the arbiter in matters of civic association boundary disputes. The Civic Federation does not set standards for its member organizations, nor does it seek to enforce them. However, it does set standards for its own actions and responses put before it.

    When reviewing Neighborhood Association presentations on various matters, such as boundary disputes, the Arlington County Civic Federation will evaluate the following criteria for each presenter:

      1. That the civic association has and follows by-laws or other governing documents (i.e., constitutions or articles of incorporation;

      2. That membership is available to at least all residents in the geographic area served;

      3. That there is at least one meeting annually and that meetings be broadly advertised, in a timely fashion, and open to all residents within the geographic area served. "

Other elements included in the report are Formal Governing Documents (overview; membership; duties of officers; meeting frequency-time-place; committees; parliamentary authority; technology); Membership Inclusivity; Boundary Representation (which reads in full: "Unless boundary changes have been accepted by the County Board, insure that any public representations comport to the Arlington County Civic Association map found at www.co.arlington.va.us/dpw/planning/civmap, the map that reflects those areas officially recognized as representing an area in public forums and on commissions or advisory groups."); Financial.

The second portion of the report provides examples of initiatives our associations have used covering Communications, Meetings, Special Events/Activities. The third portion covers committees with funding to meet neighborhood needs (Neighborhood Conservation, Traffic Calming), and the final section is the Appendices which discusses NCAC in greater detail as well as how to start or restart a civic association.

The full Task Force report

This page was last revised on: January 7, 2004.
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