Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns
Subtitle III. Boundary Adjustments and Changes of Status of Counties, Cities and Towns
Chapter 31. Settling Boundaries Between Localities
12/4/2022

Chapter 31. Settling Boundaries Between Localities.

Article 1. Boundary Lines Established by Commissioners.

§ 15.2-3100. Commissioners to settle disputed boundary lines.

Whenever a doubt exists or dispute arises over the true boundary line between any two localities, the circuit courts for the respective localities may each appoint not fewer than three nor more than five commissioners, who shall be resident landowners of their respective localities, a majority of those appointed for each locality being necessary to act, who shall meet and proceed to ascertain and establish the true line.

Code 1950, § 15-38; 1954, c. 536; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1026; 1979, c. 456; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3101. Survey and plats.

Commissioners appointed pursuant to § 15.2-3100, before proceeding to ascertain a boundary, shall employ a competent surveyor to run the boundary. The commissioners shall, with the best evidence which they can procure, direct the surveyor where to run the line and shall have him mark the boundary. After the boundary line has been run and marked, the commissioners shall require the surveyor to make two plats of the courses and distances of the line and to note thereon particularly such well-known places or prominent objects through or by which it passes as, in the opinion of the commissioners, will best designate the line.

Code 1950, § 15-39; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1027; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3102. Report of commissioners.

The commissioners shall return such plats to the respective courts by which they were appointed, together with their report of the performance of their duties in ascertaining and establishing the line, which report shall fully describe the line. If the report meets the requirements of this article and is unanimous, the courts shall approve the report. The courts shall direct that the approved report, together with the plat, be recorded in the deed books of their respective clerks' offices and indexed in the name of each locality. The courts shall certify a copy of the report to the Secretary of the Commonwealth. In all controversies thereafter concerning the location of the line, the reports and plats shall be taken as conclusive evidence of its location.

Code 1950, § 15-40; 1954, c. 536; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1028; 1970, c. 751; 1978, c. 642; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3103. Compensation of commissioners, etc.

The circuit court for each locality shall allow a reasonable compensation to the commissioners of such localities respectively, and to the surveyor and his assistants, to be paid by the localities.

Code 1950, § 15-41; 1954, c. 536; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1029; 1979, c. 456; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3104. Procedure when commissioners fail to agree.

If the commissioners fail to agree upon the location of the line, they shall so report to the circuit courts for their respective localities, stating in their reports the points and grounds of disagreement and describing fully the conflicting lines. Either locality may file a petition in the circuit court for either locality to have a court, constituted as hereinafter provided, ascertain and establish the true boundary line in doubt or dispute. Such petition shall describe, with reasonable certainty, the location contended for and shall state the grounds of such contention. A plat, showing the location contended for, filed with the petition, may serve the purposes of such description. The petitioner shall make the other locality the party defendant, and the case shall be commenced by serving a copy of the petition upon the county attorney, if any, or the attorney for the Commonwealth of such county, the city attorney of such city or the town attorney of such town. No formal plea or answer to the petition shall be necessary, but the defendant shall state its grounds of defense in writing, describing, with the same degree of certainty required of the petitioner, the line as contended for by the defendant, and the locality shall be deemed to be at issue. The issue shall be the true location of the boundary line so in doubt or dispute.

The case shall be heard and decided by a court without a jury presided over by three judges as follows: the judge of the circuit court for the petitioning locality, the judge of the circuit court for the defendant locality, and a judge of some circuit court in this Commonwealth remote from the localities, to be designated by the Chief Justice. When the localities are within the same circuit, the Chief Justice shall designate a third judge from an adjoining circuit. The court shall hear the case upon the evidence introduced in the manner in which evidence is introduced in common-law cases and shall ascertain and establish the true boundary line by a majority decision, and shall give judgment accordingly. Costs shall be awarded as the court shall determine. The judgment of the court shall be recorded in the common-law order book and in the current deed book of the court and indexed in the names of the localities, and, unless reversed, shall forever settle, determine, designate and establish the true boundary line. A copy of any final judgment shall be certified to the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Either party may appeal from the judgment of the court to the Court of Appeals, and the cost of such appeal shall be awarded to the party substantially prevailing. If an appeal is taken from the judgment of the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court, in matters in which it grants the petition for appeal, shall render a decision and award the costs of the appeal to the party that substantially prevailed.

Code 1950, § 15-42; 1954, c. 536; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1030; 1970, c. 751; 1973, c. 544; 1978, c. 642; 1979, c. 456; 1997, c. 587; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 489.

§ 15.2-3105. Boundaries to embrace wharves, piers, docks and certain other structures.

The boundary of every locality bordering on the Chesapeake Bay, including its tidal tributaries (the Elizabeth River, among others), or the Atlantic Ocean shall embrace all wharves, piers, docks and other structures, except bridges and tunnels that have been or may hereafter be erected along the waterfront of such locality, and extending into the Chesapeake Bay, including its tidal tributaries (the Elizabeth River, among others), or the Atlantic Ocean. However, only the wharves, piers, docks, or other structures which lie within the territorial jurisdiction of this Commonwealth shall be embraced within the boundary of such locality.

Code 1950, § 15-42.1; 1958, c. 280; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1031; 1976, c. 646; 1997, c. 587.

Article 2. Relocation or Change, by Agreement, of Boundary Line Between Localities; Adjustment by Court.

§ 15.2-3106. Establishment by agreement.

Whenever any two or more localities wish to relocate or change the boundary line between them, the governing bodies of such localities may, by agreement, establish, relocate or change such boundary line between them.

1977, c. 277, § 15.1-1031.1; 1983, c. 594; 1993, c. 392; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3107. Publication of agreed boundary line.

A. Before adopting an agreement pursuant to § 15.2-3106, each governing body shall advertise its intention to approve such an agreement at least once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper having general circulation in its locality, and such notice shall include a descriptive summary of the proposed agreement. The summary shall describe the new boundary, but need not include a metes and bounds description. The publication shall include a statement that a copy of the agreement is on file in the office of the clerk of the governing body which is considering the proposed agreement. A joint publication of the proposed agreement by the localities which otherwise meets the requirements of this section shall satisfy this requirement. If joint publication is used, the publication costs shall be apportioned between the participating localities in the manner agreed upon by them. After providing the notice required by this section, each locality shall hold at least one public hearing on the agreement prior to its adoption.

B. Notice of any agreement as provided in subsection A hereof shall be served upon the affected property owners, if any, of the area affected by the agreement, and if the owners of at least one third of the affected parcels object to the change, they shall be permitted to intervene in the proceedings as prescribed in § 15.2-3108 and show cause why the boundary line should not be changed. For purposes of this article "affected parcel" means a parcel of real property that is the subject of the boundary relocation or change, as shown on the current real estate tax assessment records. One notice sent by first class mail to the last known address of the owners of such parcels as shown on the current real estate tax assessment books or current real estate tax assessment records shall be deemed adequate compliance with this requirement, provided that a representative of each local governing body shall make affidavit that such mailings have been made and file such affidavit with the papers in the petition as prescribed in § 15.2-3108. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as to invalidate any subsequently adopted boundary line agreement because of the inadvertent failure by the representatives of the local governments to give written notice to the owner, owners, or their agent of any parcel involved.

1977, c. 277, § 15.1-1031.2; 1983, c. 594; 1993, c. 392; 1997, c. 587; 2014, c. 503.

§ 15.2-3108. Petition and hearing; recordation of order; costs.

Within a reasonable time after a voluntary boundary agreement is adopted by the affected localities, each affected locality shall petition the circuit court for one of the affected localities to approve the boundary agreement. The petition shall set forth the facts pertaining to the desire to relocate or change the boundary line between the localities, and the petition shall include or have attached to it either (i) a plat depicting the change in the boundaries of the localities as agreed; (ii) a metes and bounds description of the new boundary line as agreed upon by the two localities; or (iii) a Geographic Information System (GIS) map depicting the change in the boundaries of the localities as agreed, having been established by Virginia State Plane Coordinates System, South Zone or North Zone, as applicable, meeting National Geodetic Survey standards. If the court finds that the procedures required by § 15.2-3107 have been complied with and that the petition is otherwise in proper order, the court shall enter an appropriate order establishing the new boundary. The order shall include a plat depicting the change in the boundaries of the locality, a metes and bounds description of the new boundary line of the locality, or a GIS map depicting the change in the boundaries of the localities that includes the Virginia State Plane, South Zone or North Zone coordinates, as applicable, and that order shall be entered in the land records of the court and indexed in the names of the localities which were involved. Costs shall be awarded as the court may determine. Whenever such an order is entered, a certified copy of the order shall be sent to the Secretary of the Commonwealth by the clerk of the court.

1977, c. 277, § 15.1-1031.3; 1983, c. 594; 1993, c. 392; 1997, c. 587; 2013, c. 773; 2016, c. 153; 2018, cc. 85, 319; 2019, cc. 118, 385, 705.

§ 15.2-3109. Court-ordered adjustment of boundary lines.

A. Whenever any two localities have agreed that a change should be made to their common boundary line so that public services in an area may be provided more effectively and more efficiently, but are unable to agree as to the proper location for the new boundary line, their governing bodies may petition jointly either of the circuit courts for their respective localities for an order establishing the new boundary line within the terms of the petition. The court shall refer the petition to the Commission on Local Government, and shall also certify the filing of the petition to the Supreme Court with a request that a three-judge court be convened pursuant to § 15.2-3000 to decide the matter. The Commission shall conduct a hearing to receive evidence concerning the location of the new boundary line. Any interested persons may present evidence. The Commission shall publish notice of its hearing at least once a week for two successive weeks in newspapers of general circulation in each locality. Based upon the evidence and the report of its staff, the Commission shall determine a new boundary line that best promotes the more effective and efficient provision of public services. The Commission shall transmit its findings to the court in writing, where they shall be received in evidence. The court shall hear evidence with respect to relocating the boundary line and shall enter an order establishing the new boundary line so as to promote, to the extent possible, the more effective and more efficient provision of public services. Such order shall set forth the terms for the transfer of territory and shall be recorded in the common-law order book and in the current deed book for both localities' courts and indexed in the name of the localities as the case may be. A certified copy of the order shall be sent to the Secretary of the Commonwealth by the clerk of the circuit court.

B. Notice of any application as provided in subsection A hereof shall be served upon the property owners, if any, of the area affected by the agreement, and if such property owners object to the change, they shall be permitted to intervene in the proceedings and show cause why the boundary line should not be changed.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1031.4; 1997, c. 587.