Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 10.1. Conservation
3/24/2019

Article 3. Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

§ 10.1-506. Power to create new districts and to relocate or define district boundaries; composition of districts.

A. The Board shall have the power to (i) create a new district from territory not previously within an existing district, (ii) merge or divide existing districts, (iii) transfer territory from an existing district to another district, (iv) modify or create a district by a combination of the above and (v) relocate or define the boundaries of soil and water conservation districts in the manner hereinafter prescribed.

B. An incorporated town within any county having a soil and water conservation district shall be a part of that district. If a town lies within the boundaries of more than one county, it shall be considered to be wholly within the county in which the larger portion of the town lies.

Code 1950, § 21-2; 1956, c. 654; 1970, c. 480, § 21-12.1; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-507. Petitions filed with the Board.

Petitions to modify or create districts, or relocate or define boundaries of existing districts, shall be initiated and filed with the Board for its approval or disapproval by any of the following methods:

1. By petition of a majority of the directors of any or each district or by petition from a majority of the governing body of any or each county or city.

2. By petition of a majority of the governing body of a county or city not within an existing district, requesting to be included in an existing district and concurred in by the district directors.

3. By petition of a majority of the governing body of a county or city or parts thereof not included within an existing district, requesting that a new district be created.

4. By petition, signed by a number of registered voters equal to twenty-five percent of the vote cast in the last general election, who are residents of a county or city not included within an existing district, requesting that a new district be created, or requesting to be included within an existing district. If the petition bears the signatures of the requisite number of registered voters of a county or city, or two or more cities, then the petition shall be deemed to be the joint petition of the particular combination of political subdivisions named in the petition. If the petition deals in whole or in part with a portion or portions of a political subdivision or subdivisions, then the number of signatures necessary for each portion of a political subdivision shall be the same as if the whole political subdivision were involved in the petition, and may come from the political subdivision at large.

1970, c. 480, § 21-12.2; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-508. Contents and form of petition.

The petition shall set forth:

1. The proposed name of the district;

2. That there is need, in the interest of the public health, safety, and welfare, for the proposed district to function in the territory described in the petition, and a brief statement of the grounds upon which this conclusion is based;

3. A description of the territory proposed to be organized as a district, which description shall not be required to be given by metes and bounds or by legal subdivision, but shall be deemed sufficient if generally accurate;

4. A request that the Board define the boundaries for such district; that a hearing be held within the territory so defined on the question of the creation of a district in such territory; and that the Board determine that such a district be created.

Where more than one petition is filed covering parts of the same territory, the Board may consolidate the petitions.

The Board shall prescribe the petition form.

Code 1950, § 21-13; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-509. Disapproval of petition.

If the Board disapproves the petition, its determination shall be recorded, and if the petitioners are the governing body of a district, county or city or a part of a county or city, the governing body shall be notified in writing. If the petitioners are the requisite number of registered voters prescribed by subdivision 4 of § 10.1-507, notification shall be by a notice printed once in a newspaper of general circulation within the area designated in the petition.

1970, c. 480, § 21-13.1; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-510. Petition approved; Board to give notice of hearing.

If the Board approves the petition, within sixty days after such determination, the Board shall provide due notice of the approval in a newspaper of general circulation in each county or city involved. The notice shall include notice of a hearing upon the question of the desirability and necessity, in the interest of the public health, safety, and welfare, of the action proposed by the petition upon (i) the question of the appropriate boundaries to be assigned to such district, (ii) the propriety of the petition and other proceedings taken under this chapter, and (iii) all questions relevant to such inquiries.

Code 1950, § 21-14; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-511. Adjournment of hearing when additional territory appears desirable.

If it appears upon the hearing that it may be desirable to include within the proposed district territory outside of the area within which due notice of the hearing has been given, the hearing shall be adjourned and due notice of a further hearing shall be given throughout the entire area considered for inclusion in the district.

Code 1950, § 21-16; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-512. Determination of need for district.

After a public hearing, if the Board determines that there is need, in the interest of the public health, safety, and welfare, for the proposed district to function in the territory considered at the hearing, it shall record its determination, and shall define, by metes and bounds or by legal subdivisions the boundaries of the district. In so doing, the Board shall consider (i) the topography of the area considered and of the Commonwealth, (ii) the composition of soils in the area, (iii) the distribution of erosion, (iv) the prevailing land-use practices, (v) the desirability and necessity of including within the boundaries the particular lands under consideration and the benefits the lands may receive from being included within such boundaries, (vi) the relation of the proposed area to existing watersheds and to other soil and water conservation districts already organized or proposed for organization, (vii) the existing political subdivisions, and (viii) other relevant physical, geographical, economic, and funding factors. The territory to be included within such boundaries need not be contiguous.

Code 1950, § 21-17; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891; 2002, c. 192.

§ 10.1-513. Determination that district not needed.

If the Board determines after the hearing, and after due consideration of the relevant facts, that there is no need for a soil and water conservation district to function in the territory considered at the hearing, it shall record its determination and deny the petition.

Code 1950, § 21-18; 1964, c. 512; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-514. Determination of feasibility of operation.

After the Board has made and recorded a determination that there is need for the organization of the proposed district in a particular territory, and has defined the boundaries, it shall consider whether the operation of a district within such boundaries is administratively practicable and feasible. In making its determination, the Board shall consider the attitudes of the occupiers of lands lying within the defined boundaries, the probable expense of the operation of such district, the effect upon the programs of any existing districts, and other relevant economic and social factors. If the Board determines that the operation of a district is administratively practicable and feasible, it shall record its determination and proceed with the organization of the district. If the Board determines that the operation of a district is not administratively practicable and feasible, it shall record its determination and deny the petition. If the petition is denied, the Board shall notify the petitioner in the manner provided in this chapter.

Code 1950, § 21-20; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-515. Composition of governing body.

If the Board determines that the operation of the proposed district within the defined boundaries is administratively practicable and feasible, and the proposed district is created, then its governing body shall be a board of district directors appointed or elected in the number and manner specified as follows:

1. If the district embraces one county or city, or less than one county or city, the board of district directors shall consist of five members, three to be elected by the registered voters of the district and two appointed by the Board.

2. If the district embraces more than one county or city, or parts thereof, the board of district directors shall consist of two members elected by the registered voters from each county or city, or parts thereof embraced by the district. Two members-at-large shall be appointed by the Board.

Code 1950, § 21-27; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1978, c. 763; 1988, c. 891; 2002, cc. 143, 236.

§ 10.1-516. Status of district directors in event of transfer, merger, or division of districts.

In the event of the transfer, merger, or division of districts, the status of the district directors involved shall be affected as follows:

1. The composition of an existing district board of a district to which territory is transferred shall remain in effect until the terms of office of the present elected members expire. Upon the transfer of a county or city, or parts thereof, from one district to another district, (i) elected district directors residing within the territory transferred shall be appointed as directors of the district to which the territory is transferred for a term of office to coincide with that of the elected directors of the district to which the territory is transferred; and (ii) appointed district directors residing within the territory transferred shall be appointed as directors of the district to which the territory is transferred for a term of office to coincide with that of the appointed directors, either as an extension agent appointee or an at-large appointee of the district to which the territory is transferred. At the option of the petitioners, a petition may request that a proposed transfer be treated as a merger or division for the purpose of this section, and the Board at its discretion may grant or refuse such request.

2. Upon the merger of existing districts, or upon the separation from two or more existing districts of a county or city, or parts thereof, which merge to create a new district, all district directors residing within the territory merged shall be appointed as directors of the new district. Following the merger, (i) elected district directors residing within the territory of the new district shall be appointed as directors of the new district for a term of office to coincide with that of elected directors as provided in § 10.1-529; and (ii) appointed district directors residing within the new district shall be appointed as directors of the new district for a term of office to coincide with that of the appointed directors, either as an extension agent appointee or an at-large appointee of the district as provided in § 10.1-529.

3. Upon the division of an existing district, to create a new district, all elected or appointed district directors residing within the territory to be divided from the existing district shall be appointed as directors of the new district. Following the division, (i) elected district directors residing within the territory of the new district shall be appointed as directors of the new district for a term of office to coincide with that of elected directors as provided in § 10.1-529; and (ii) appointed district directors residing within the territory of the new district shall be appointed as directors of the new district for a term of office to coincide with that of the appointed directors, either as an extension agent appointee or an at-large appointee of the district as provided in § 10.1-529.

This section shall not be construed as broadening or limiting the size of a governing body of a district as prescribed by § 10.1-515. If the operation of this section results in a governing body larger or smaller than the appropriate size permitted by § 10.1-515, then such a variation, if not otherwise corrected by operation of this section, shall be cured by appropriate appointments by the Board and with the next general election after the transfer, merger, or division in which all those elected directors prescribed by § 10.1-515 may be elected.

1970, c. 480, § 21-27.2; 1988, c. 891; 2002, cc. 143, 236.

§ 10.1-517. Application and statement to the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Upon the creation of a district by any means authorized by this chapter, two district directors appointed by the Board and authorized by the Board to do so, shall present to the Secretary of the Commonwealth an application signed by them, which shall set forth: (i) that a petition for the creation of the district was filed with the Board pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, and that the proceedings specified in this chapter were conducted; (ii) that the application is being filed in order to complete the organization of the district as a political subdivision under this chapter; (iii) that the Board has appointed them as district directors; (iv) the name and official residence of each of the district directors together with a certified copy of the appointments evidencing their right to office; (v) the term of office of each of the district directors; (vi) the proposed name of the district; and (vii) the location of the principal office of the district directors. The application shall be subscribed and sworn to by the two district directors authorized by the Board to make such application before an officer authorized by the laws of the Commonwealth to take and certify oaths. The application shall be accompanied by a certified statement by the Board that the district was created as required by law. The statement shall set forth the boundaries of the district as they have been defined by the Board.

If the creation of a district necessitates the dissolution of an existing district, an application shall be submitted to the Secretary of the Commonwealth, with the application for the district to be created, by the directors of the district to be dissolved, for the discontinuance of such district, contingent upon the creation of the new district. The application for discontinuance, duly verified, shall simply state that the lands encompassed in the district to be dissolved shall be included within the territory of the district created. The application for discontinuance of such district shall be accompanied by a certified statement by the Board that the discontinued district was dissolved as required by law and the new district was created as required by law. The statement shall contain a description of the boundaries of each district dissolved and shall set forth the boundaries of the district created as defined by the Board. The Secretary of the Commonwealth shall issue to the directors of each district a certificate of dissolution and shall record the certificate in an appropriate book of record in his office.

When the boundaries of districts are changed pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, the various affected district boards shall each present to the Secretary of the Commonwealth an application, signed by them, for a new certificate of organization evidencing the change of boundaries. The application shall be filed with the Secretary of the Commonwealth accompanied by a certified statement by the Board that the boundaries have been changed in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. The statement by the Board shall define the new boundary line in a manner adequate to describe the boundary changes of districts. When the application and statement have been filed with the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the change of boundary shall become effective and the Secretary of the Commonwealth shall issue to the directors of each of the districts a certificate of organization evidencing the change of boundaries.

Code 1950, § 21-28; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-518. Action of Secretary on the application and statement; change of name of district.

The Secretary of the Commonwealth shall examine the application and statement and, if he finds that the name proposed for the district is not identical to that of any other soil and water conservation district shall receive and file them and shall record the application in an appropriate book of record in his office. If the Secretary of the Commonwealth finds that the name proposed for the district is identical to that of any other soil and water conservation district, or so nearly similar as to lead to confusion and uncertainty, he shall certify such fact to the Board, which shall submit to the Secretary of the Commonwealth a new name for the district. Upon receipt of the new name, the Secretary of the Commonwealth shall record the application, with the name so modified, in an appropriate book of record in his office. When the application and statement have been made, filed and recorded, as herein provided, the district shall constitute a political subdivision of the Commonwealth. The Secretary of the Commonwealth shall make and issue to the directors a certificate, under the lesser seal of the Commonwealth, of the due organization of the district and shall record the certificate with the application and statement. The boundaries of the district shall include the territory as determined by the Board, but shall not include any area included within the boundaries of another district, except in those cases otherwise provided for in this article. The name of any district may be changed if a petition for such change is subscribed by twenty-five or more landowners from each county or city comprising the district and adopted by resolution of the district directors at any regular meeting. The district directors shall submit a copy of the resolution to the Board and, if the Board concurs, it shall present the resolution, together with a certified statement that it concurs, to the Secretary of the Commonwealth who shall file the resolution and issue a new or amended certificate of organization.

Code 1950, § 21-29; 1954, c. 670; 1958, c. 409; 1960, c. 208; 1962, c. 212; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-518.1. Secretary to send copies of certificates to State Board of Elections.

Whenever the Secretary issues a certificate creating, dissolving, or changing the name or composition of a district, the Secretary shall promptly send a certified copy of such certificate to the State Board of Elections.

2001, c. 53.

§ 10.1-519. Renewal of petition after disapproval or denial.

After six months have expired from the date of the disapproval or denial of any petition for a soil and water conservation district, subsequent petitions covering the same or substantially the same territory may be filed with the Board as provided in this chapter.

Code 1950, § 21-30; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-520. Contracts to remain in force; succession to rights and obligations.

Upon consummation of any transfer, merger, or division, or any combination thereof, using territory within a previously existing district to form a new district or to add to an existing district, all contracts in effect at the time of the consummation, affecting or relating to the territory transferred, merged, or divided, to which the governing body of the district from which such territory was acquired is a party shall remain in force for the period provided in the contracts. Rights and obligations acquired or assumed by the district from which the territory was acquired shall succeed to the district to which the territory is transferred.

1970, c. 480, § 21-31.2; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-521. Determination of status of district boundaries upon annexation or consolidation.

Notwithstanding the provisions of § 10.1-507, the Board may, in its discretion, relocate or redefine district boundaries on its own motion pending or subsequent to any annexation or consolidation.

If the Board determines on its own motion to relocate or redefine district boundaries, the Board shall serve written notice of its determination, containing the full terms of the proposed relocation or redefinition, on the governing body of each district, county, city and town affected by the relocation or redefinition of boundaries. If within forty-five days from the date of service of such notice each governing body affected approves the Board's action by resolution of a majority of the members, the Board may then proceed to act on its motion without a public hearing.

1970, c. 480, § 21-31.3; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-522. Certificate of Secretary of Commonwealth as evidence.

In any suit, action, or proceeding involving the validity or enforcement of, or relating to, any contract, proceeding, or action of the district, the district shall be deemed to have been established, reorganized, or renamed, in accordance with the provisions of this chapter upon proof of the issuance of the certificate by the Secretary of the Commonwealth. A copy of such certificate shall be admissible in evidence in any such suit, action, or proceeding and shall be proof of the issuance and contents thereof.

Code 1950, § 21-32; 1954, c. 670; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-523. Nominating petitions; posting of notice.

A. Beginning 30 days after the date of issuance by the Secretary of the Commonwealth of a certificate of organization of a district, but not later than the filing date specified in § 24.2-507 for the November 2003 general election and each fourth year thereafter, nominating petitions, statements of qualifications, and declarations of candidacy shall be filed with the general registrar of the county or city where the candidate resides, pursuant to §§ 24.2-501, 24.2-503, 24.2-505, 24.2-506, and 24.2-507, to nominate candidates for elected directors of such districts. Nominating petitions, statements of qualifications, and declarations of candidacy for elected directors of existing districts shall be filed with the general registrar of the county or city where the candidate resides, pursuant to §§ 24.2-501, 24.2-503, 24.2-505, 24.2-506, and 24.2-507. Notice of the date for filing such petitions and the time of the election shall be posted in a prominent location accessible to the public at each district office at least 30 days before the filing date. In addition, districts may use newsletters, websites, public service announcements, and other notices to advise the public of elections of district directors.

B. Registered voters may sign more than one nominating petition to nominate more than one candidate for district director.

C. The Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board shall notify each district of the requirement (i) to post notice of the dates for filing such petitions and the election and (ii) that the posting shall be in a prominent location accessible to the public at each district office at least 30 days before the filing date.

D. Beginning in the year 2003, elections shall be held only at the November general election in 2003 and at the November general election in each fourth year thereafter.

Code 1950, §§ 21-33 to 21-36; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891; 2001, c. 53; 2002, cc. 143, 236; 2009, cc. 370, 629.

§ 10.1-524. Names of nominees furnished electoral board; how ballots printed, etc.

The names of all nominees shall be furnished to the secretary of the electoral board of the respective county or city and shall be printed upon ballots. The ballots shall be printed, voted, counted and canvassed in conformity with the provisions of general law relating to elections, except as herein otherwise provided.

Code 1950, § 21-37; 1960, c. 208; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-525. Canvassing returns.

The result of the election shall be canvassed and certified by the electoral board for the county or city in which the candidate resides pursuant to §§ 24.2-671 through 24.2-678. The State Board of Elections shall, promptly after the meeting required by § 24.2-679, certify to the Director of the Department of Conservation and Recreation a list of the candidates elected and certified as Directors of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, as reported pursuant to § 24.2-675.

Code 1950, § 21-38; 1960, c. 208; 1964, c. 512; 1988, c. 891; 2001, c. 53; 2002, cc. 143, 236.

§ 10.1-526. Persons eligible to vote.

All registered voters residing within each county or city or part thereof shall be eligible to vote in the election for their respective nominees.

Code 1950, § 21-39; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-527. Determination of candidates elected.

If the district embraces one county or city, or less than one county or city, the three candidates who receive the largest number of the votes cast in the election shall be elected directors for the district.

If the district embraces more than one county or city, or parts thereof, the two candidates from each county or city, or part thereof, receiving the largest number of the votes cast in the election shall be the elected directors for the district.

Code 1950, § 21-40; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-528. Expenses and publication of results.

The expenses of such elections shall be paid by the counties or cities concerned. The State Board of Elections shall publish, or have published within the district, the results of the election.

Code 1950, § 21-41; 1960, c. 208; 1964, c. 512; 1988, c. 891; 2002, cc. 143, 236.

§ 10.1-529. District directors constitute governing body; qualifications.

The governing body of the district shall consist of five or more district directors, elected and appointed as provided in this article.

The two district directors appointed by the Board shall be persons who are by training and experience qualified to perform the specialized skilled services which will be required of them in the performance of their duties. One of the appointed district directors shall be the extension agent of the county or city, or one of the counties or cities constituting the district, or a part thereof. Other appointed and elected district directors shall reside within the boundaries of the district.

Code 1950, §§ 21-42, 21-43; 1954, c. 670; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-529.1. Duties of district directors.

In addition to other duties and powers, district directors shall:

1. Identify soil and water issues and opportunities within the district or related to the district and establish priorities for addressing these issues;

2. Seek a comprehensive understanding of the complex issues that impact soil and water, and assist in resolving the identified issues at the watershed, local, regional, state, and national levels;

3. Engage in actions that will improve soil and water stewardship by use of locally led programs;

4. Increase understanding among community leaders, including elected officials and others, of their role in soil and water quality protection and improvement;

5. Foster discussion and advancement within the community of positions and programs by their district;

6. Actively participate in the activities of the district and ensure district resources are used effectively and managed wisely; and

7. Support and promote the advancement of districts and their capabilities.

2005, c. 73.

§ 10.1-530. Designation of chairman; terms of office; filling vacancies.

A. The district directors shall designate a chairman from the elected members, or from the Board-appointed members, of the district board and may change such designation.

B. The term of office of each district director shall be four years. A district director shall hold office until his successor has been elected or appointed and has qualified. The selection of successors to fill a full term shall be made in accordance with the provisions of this article. Beginning in the year 2003, the election of district directors shall be held at the November 2003 general election and each fourth year thereafter. The terms of office of elected district directors shall begin on January 1 following the November general election. The term of office of any district director elected in November 1999 shall be extended to the January 1 following the November 2003 general election. The term of office of any district director elected in November 2000 shall expire on the January 1 following the November 2003 general election. The term of office of any district director elected in November 2001 or 2002 shall be extended to expire on the January 1 following the November general election in 2007. Appointments made by the Board to the at-large position held by an extension agent shall be made to commence January 1, 2005, and each fourth year thereafter. Appointments made by the Board to the other at-large position shall be made to commence January 1, 2007, and each fourth year thereafter. Any appointment made by the Board prior to January 1, 2005, to an at-large position held by an extension agent shall be made to expire January 1, 2005; and any appointment made by the Board prior to January 1, 2007, to the other at-large position shall be made to expire January 1, 2007.

C. A vacancy shall exist in the event of the death, resignation or removal of residence from the district of any director or the elimination or detachment from the district of the territory in which a director resides, or by the removal of a director from office by the Board. Any vacancy in an elected or appointed director's position shall be filled by an appointment made by the Board for the unexpired term. In the event of the creation of a new district, the transfer of territory from an existing district to an existing district, or the addition of territory not previously within an existing district to an existing district, the Board may appoint directors to fill the vacancies of elected directors prescribed by § 10.1-515 in the newly created district or in the territory added to an existing district. Such appointed directors shall serve in office until the elected directors prescribed by § 10.1-515 take office after the next general election at which directors for the entire district are selected.

Code 1950, §§ 21-44, 21-45; 1954, c. 670; 1956, c. 654; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891; 2001, c. 54; 2002, cc. 143, 236.

§ 10.1-531. Quorum and expenses.

A majority of the district directors currently in office shall constitute a quorum and the concurrence of a majority of those present and voting shall be required for all determinations. A district director shall receive no compensation for his services, but shall be entitled to expenses, including traveling expenses, necessarily incurred in the discharge of his duties.

Code 1950, § 21-46; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891; 2003, c. 616.

§ 10.1-532. Employment of officers, agents and employees.

The district directors may employ a secretary-treasurer, whose qualifications shall be approved by the Board, technical experts, and such other officers, agents and employees, permanent and temporary, as they may require, and shall determine their qualifications, duties and compensation.

Code 1950, § 21-47; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-533. Delegation of powers.

The district directors may delegate to their chairman or to one or more district directors, agents or employees such powers and duties as they may deem proper.

Code 1950, § 21-48; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-534. Information furnished Board.

The district directors shall furnish to the Board or Department, upon request, copies of ordinances, rules, regulations, orders, contracts, forms, and other documents that they adopt or employ, and other information concerning their activities as the Board or Department may require in the performance of its duties under this chapter.

Code 1950, § 21-49; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-535. Bonds of officers and employees; records and accounts.

The district directors shall (i) provide for the execution of surety bonds for all employees and officers who shall be entrusted with funds or property; (ii) provide for the keeping of a full and accurate record of all proceedings and of all resolutions, regulations, and orders issued or adopted; and (iii) provide for an annual audit of the accounts of receipts and disbursements by the Auditor of Public Accounts or a certified public accountant approved by him.

Code 1950, § 21-50; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-536. Removal from office.

Any district director may be removed by the Board for neglect of duty or malfeasance in office, or may be removed in accordance with the provisions of general law. Upon receipt of a sworn complaint against a director filed by a majority of the directors of that same district, the Board shall (i) notify the district director that a complaint has been filed against him and (ii) hold a hearing to determine whether the district director's conduct constitutes neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.

Code 1950, § 21-51; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891; 1996, c. 493.

§ 10.1-537. Representatives of governing bodies to be invited to consult with directors.

The district directors shall invite the legislative body of any locality located near the territory comprised within the district to designate a representative to advise and consult with the directors of the district on all questions of program and policy which may affect the property, water supply, or other interests of such locality.

Code 1950, § 21-52; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-538. District is political subdivision.

A soil and water conservation district organized under the provisions of this article shall constitute a political subdivision of this Commonwealth.

Code 1950, § 21-53; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-539. Surveys and dissemination of information.

Districts are authorized to (i) conduct surveys, investigations, and research relating to soil erosion and floodwater and sediment damages, and to agricultural and nonagricultural phases of the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water, and the preventive and control measures and works of improvement needed; (ii) publish the results of such surveys, investigations, or research; and (iii) disseminate information concerning preventive and control measures and works of improvement. However, in order to avoid duplication of research activities, no district shall initiate any research program except in cooperation with the government of the Commonwealth or the United States.

Code 1950, § 21-54; 1956, c. 654; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-540. Demonstrational projects.

Districts are authorized to conduct demonstrational projects within the district on lands owned or controlled by the Commonwealth or any of its agencies, with the consent and cooperation of the agency administering and having jurisdiction thereof, and on any other lands within the district upon obtaining the consent of the owner and occupier of such lands or the necessary rights or interests in such lands. The purpose of such projects is to demonstrate by example the means, methods, and measures by which soil and water resources may be conserved, and soil erosion in the form of soil washing may be prevented and controlled, and works of improvement for flood prevention or agricultural and nonagricultural phases of the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water may be carried out.

Code 1950, § 21-55; 1956, c. 654; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-541. Preventive and control measures.

Districts are authorized to carry out preventive and control measures and works of improvement for flood prevention or agricultural and nonagricultural phases of the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water within the district including, but not limited to, engineering operations, methods of cultivation, the growing of vegetation and changes in use of land on lands owned or controlled by the Commonwealth or any of its agencies, with the consent and cooperation of the agency administering and having jurisdiction thereof, and on any other lands within the district upon obtaining the consent of the owner and occupier of such lands or the necessary rights or interests in such lands.

Code 1950, § 21-56; 1956, c. 654; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-542. Financial aid to agencies and occupiers.

Districts are authorized to enter into agreements, within the limits of available appropriations, to give, lend or otherwise furnish financial or other aid to any governmental or other agency, or any occupier of lands within the district, to provide erosion-control and prevention operations and works of improvement for flood prevention or agricultural and nonagricultural phases of the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water within the district. Agreements shall be subject to such conditions as the directors may deem necessary to advance the purposes of this chapter.

Code 1950, § 21-57; 1956, c. 654; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-543. Acquisition, improvement and disposition of property.

Districts are authorized to (i) obtain options upon and to acquire, by purchase, exchange, lease, gift, grant, bequest, devise, or otherwise, any property, real or personal, or rights or interests therein; (ii) maintain, administer, and improve any properties acquired, to receive income from such properties and to expend such income in carrying out the purposes and provisions of this article; and (iii) sell, lease, or otherwise dispose of any of their property or interests therein in furtherance of the provisions of this chapter.

Code 1950, § 21-58; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-544. Making material and equipment available.

Districts are authorized to make available, on terms they prescribe, to land occupiers within the district, agricultural and engineering machinery and equipment, fertilizer, seeds and seedlings and other material or equipment that will assist land occupiers to conserve soil resources, to prevent and control soil erosion and to prevent floods or to carry out the agricultural and nonagricultural phases of the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water.

Code 1950, § 21-59; 1956, c. 654; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-545. Construction, improvement, operation and maintenance of structures.

Districts are authorized to construct, improve, operate and maintain such structures as may be necessary or convenient for the performance of any of the operations authorized in this chapter.

Code 1950, § 21-60; 1956, c. 654; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-546. Development of programs and plans.

Districts are authorized to develop comprehensive programs and plans for the conservation of soil resources, for the control and prevention of soil erosion, for flood prevention or for agricultural and nonagricultural phases of the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water within the district. Such programs and plans shall specify the acts, procedures, performances, and avoidances which are necessary or desirable to effect such programs and plans, including the specification of engineering operations, methods of cultivation, the growing of vegetation, cropping programs, tillage practices, and changes in use of land. After such programs and plans have been approved by the Board, districts are authorized to publish such programs and plans, and information, and bring them to the attention of occupiers of lands within the district.

Code 1950, § 21-61; 1956, c. 654; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-546.1. Delivery of Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-Share Program.

Districts shall locally deliver the Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-Share Program described under § 10.1-2128.1, under the direction of the Board, as a means of promoting voluntary adoption of conservation management practices by farmers and land managers in support of the Department's nonpoint source pollution management program.

2004, c. 474; 2009, cc. 209, 263; 2013, cc. 593, 658.

§ 10.1-547. Acquisition and administration of projects; acting as agent for United States, etc.; acceptance of gifts.

Districts shall have the following additional authority:

1. To acquire by purchase, lease, or other similar means, and to administer, any soil conservation, flood prevention, drainage, irrigation, agricultural and nonagricultural water management, erosion control, or erosion prevention project, or combinations thereof, located within its boundaries undertaken by the United States or any of its agencies, or by the Commonwealth or any of its agencies;

2. To manage, as agent of the United States or any of its agencies, or of the Commonwealth or any of its agencies, any soil conservation, flood prevention, drainage, irrigation, agricultural and nonagricultural water management, erosion control or erosion prevention project, or combinations thereof, within its boundaries;

3. To act as agent for the United States or any of its agencies, or for the Commonwealth or any of its agencies, in connection with the acquisition, construction, maintenance, operation, or administration of any soil conservation, flood prevention, drainage, irrigation, agricultural and nonagricultural water management, erosion control, or erosion prevention project, or combinations thereof, within its boundaries;

4. To accept donations, gifts, and contributions in money, services, materials, or otherwise, from the United States or any of its agencies, or from the Commonwealth or any of its agencies or from any other source, and to use or expend such moneys, services, materials, or other contributions in carrying on its operations.

Code 1950, § 21-62; 1956, c. 654; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-548. Contracts; rules.

Districts are authorized to have a seal; to have perpetual succession unless terminated as hereinafter provided; to make and execute contracts and other instruments necessary or convenient to the exercise of their powers; to make, amend and repeal regulations not inconsistent with this chapter, to effect their purposes and powers.

Code 1950, § 21-63; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-549. Cooperation between districts.

The directors of any two or more districts may cooperate in the exercise of any or all powers conferred in this chapter.

Code 1950, § 21-4; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-549.1. Virginia Envirothon.

Districts in partnership with other districts, agencies, organizations, and associations are authorized to coordinate and implement the Virginia Envirothon Program, administered by the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, which enables learning experiences for high school students through competitive events focusing on natural resource conservation.

2003, c. 402.

§ 10.1-550. State agencies to cooperate.

Agencies of the Commonwealth which have jurisdiction over or administer any state-owned lands, and agencies of any political subdivision of the Commonwealth which have jurisdiction over or administer any publicly owned lands lying within the boundaries of any district, shall cooperate to the fullest extent with the district directors in the effectuation of programs and operations undertaken pursuant to this chapter. The district directors shall be given free access to enter and perform work upon such public-owned lands.

Code 1950, § 21-5; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-551. Conditions for extension of benefits.

As a condition to the extending of any benefits under this chapter to, or the performance of work upon, any lands not owned or controlled by the Commonwealth or any of its agencies, the district directors may require contributions in money, services, materials, or otherwise to any operations conferring such benefits, and may require land occupiers to enter into and perform such agreements or covenants as to the permanent use of such lands that will tend to prevent or control erosion and prevent floodwaters and sediment damages thereon.

Code 1950, § 21-64; 1956, c. 654; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-552. Renting machinery and equipment.

Districts are authorized to rent the machinery and other equipment made available to them by the Department to governing bodies and, individuals, or groups of individuals to be used by them for the purpose of soil and water conservation upon such terms as the district directors deem proper.

Code 1950, § 21-65; 1954, c. 670; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-553. Petition by landowners.

Any time after two years after the organization of a district, any twenty-five owners of land lying within the boundaries of the district may file a petition with the Board requesting that the operations of the district be terminated and the existence of the district discontinued.

Code 1950, § 21-106; 1964, c. 512; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-554. Hearings.

The Board may conduct public meetings and public hearings upon the termination petition to assist it in the considerations thereof.

Code 1950, § 21-107; 1964, c. 512; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-555. Referendum.

Within sixty days after a termination petition has been received by the Board it shall give due notice of the holding of a referendum and shall supervise the referendum, and issue appropriate regulations governing the conduct thereof. The ballot shall contain the following question: "Shall the existence of the (name of the soil and water conservation district) be terminated?

[] Yes

[] No"

All registered voters residing within the boundaries of the district shall be eligible to vote in the referendum. No informalities in the conduct of the referendum or in any related matters shall invalidate the referendum or the result if proper notice has been given and if the referendum has been fairly conducted.

Code 1950, § 21-108; 1964, c. 512; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-556. Determination of Board.

The Board shall publish the result of the referendum and shall thereafter consider and determine whether the continued operation of the district within the defined boundaries is administratively practicable and feasible. If the Board determines that the continued operation of the district is administratively practicable and feasible, it shall record the determination and deny the petition. If the Board determines that the continued operation of the district is not administratively practicable and feasible, it shall record its determination and certify the determination to the district directors. In making its determination the Board shall consider the proportion of the votes cast in favor of the discontinuance of the district to the total number of votes cast, the probable expense of carrying on erosion control operations within the district, and other relevant economic and social factors. However, the Board shall not have authority to determine that the continued operation of the district is administratively practicable and feasible unless at least a majority of the votes cast in the referendum have been cast in favor of the continuance of such district.

Code 1950, § 21-109; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-557. Duty of directors after certification of Board.

Upon receiving from the Board certification that the Board has determined that the continued operation of the district is not administratively practicable and feasible, the district directors shall proceed to determine the affairs of the district. The district directors shall dispose of all property belonging to the district at public auction and shall pay the proceeds of the sale into the state treasury. The district directors shall then file an application, duly verified, with the Secretary of the Commonwealth, for the discontinuance of the district, and shall transmit with the application the certificate of the Board setting forth the determination of the Board that the continued operation of the district is not administratively practicable and feasible. The application shall recite that the property of the district has been disposed of and the proceeds paid over as provided by law, and shall set forth a full accounting of such properties and proceeds of the sale. The Secretary of the Commonwealth shall issue to the district directors a certificate of dissolution and shall record the certificate in an appropriate book of record in his office.

Code 1950, § 21-110; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-558. Effect of issuance of certificate of dissolution.

Upon issuance of a certificate of dissolution, all ordinances and regulations previously adopted and in force within such district shall be of no further force. All contracts entered into, to which the district or district directors are parties, shall remain in force for the period provided in the contracts. The Board shall be substituted for the district or district directors as party to the contracts. The Board shall be entitled to all benefits and subject to all liabilities under the contracts and shall have the same right and liability to perform, to require performance, to sue and be sued thereon, and to modify or terminate such contracts by mutual consent or otherwise, as the district directors would have had.

Code 1950, § 21-111; 1964, c. 512; 1970, c. 480; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-559. Petitions limited to once in five years.

The Board shall not entertain petitions for the discontinuance of any district, conduct elections upon such petitions or make determinations pursuant to such petitions more often than once in five years.

Code 1950, § 21-112; 1964, c. 512; 1988, c. 891.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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