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Code of Virginia
Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns
Chapter 46. Multicounty Transportation Improvement Districts
3/2/2024

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 15.2-4600. Short title; application.

This chapter shall be known as the "Multicounty Transportation Improvement Districts." No district shall be created under this chapter after June 30, 1993.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4601. Purpose of chapter.

It is the intent of the legislature to encourage the formation of transportation improvement districts in multicounty circumstances in order to facilitate regional transportation initiatives and to gain access to revenues in addition to general state and local taxes for the purpose of accelerating construction of vital transportation improvements.

It is the further intent of the legislature to grant to governing bodies of counties in which such transportation improvement districts may be formed the authority to provide long-term zoning and land use protection to properties paying the special taxes that further the purpose of this chapter.

It is the further intent of the legislature that all districts created pursuant to this chapter provide such long-term zoning protection where such special taxes have been imposed.

It is the further intent of the legislature to declare that the formation of transportation improvement districts and the granting of long-term land use protection in exchange for the payment of special taxes promote the public health, safety, and welfare.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4602. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context indicates another meaning or intent:

"Commission" means the governing body of the local district.

"Cost" means all or any part of the cost of acquisition, construction, reconstruction, alteration, landscaping, or enlargement of a public mass transit system or highway that is located in counties that are authorized by this chapter to create a transportation improvement district, including the cost of the acquisition of land, rights-of-way, property rights, easements and interests acquired for such construction, alteration or expansion, the cost of demolishing or removing any structure on land so acquired, including the cost of acquiring any lands to which such structures may be removed, the cost of all labor, materials, machinery and equipment, financing charges, insurance, interest on all bonds prior to and during construction and, if deemed advisable by the commission, for a reasonable period after completion of such construction, reserves for principal and interest and for extensions, enlargements, additions, replacements, renovations, and improvements, provisions for working capital, the cost of surveys, engineering and architectural expenses, borings, plans and specifications and other engineering and architectural services, legal expenses, studies, estimates of costs and revenues, administrative expenses, and such other expenses as may be necessary, or incident to, the construction of the project or, solely as to districts created pursuant to this chapter after July 1, 1990, the creation of the district (the costs of which creation shall not exceed $150,000), and of such subsequent additions thereto or expansion thereof, and to determining the feasibility or practicability of such construction, the cost of financing such construction, additions, or expansion and placing the project and such additions or expansion in operation.

"County" means Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William Counties.

"District" or "local district" means any transportation improvement district created under the provisions of § 15.2-4603.

"District advisory board" or "advisory board" means the board appointed by the commission in accordance with § 15.2-4605.

"Federal agency" means and includes the United States of America or any department, bureau, agency, or instrumentality thereof.

"Owner" or "landowner" means the person or entity that has the usufruct, control, or occupation of the taxable real property as determined by the commissioner of the revenue of the jurisdiction in which the subject real property is located pursuant to § 58.1-3281.

"Revenues" means any or all fees, tolls, taxes, rents, notes, receipts, assessments, moneys, and income derived by the local district and includes any cash contributions or payments made to the local district by the Commonwealth or any agency, department, or political subdivision thereof or by any other source.

"Town" means any town having a population of more than 1,000.

"Transportation improvements" means any and all real or personal property utilized in constructing and improving (i) any mass transportation project and (ii) any primary highway or portion thereof, located within any district created pursuant to § 15.2-4603. Such improvements include, without limitation, public mass transit systems, public highways, all buildings, structures, approaches, and other facilities and appurtenances thereto, rights-of-way, bridges, tunnels, transportation stations, terminals, areas for parking, and all related equipment and fixtures.

1997, c. 587; 2019, c. 632.

§ 15.2-4603. Creation of district; extension of term of district.

A. A transportation improvement district shall be created under this chapter only by the resolutions of the boards of supervisors of the adjoining counties, as defined in § 15.2-4602, upon the joint petition to each board of supervisors in which the proposed district is located of the owners of at least 51 percent of either the land area or the assessed value of land in each county that is within the boundaries of the proposed district and that has been zoned for commercial or industrial use or is used for such purposes. Any proposed district shall include land in each county and may include any land within a town located within such county. Such petitions should:

1. Set forth the name and describe the boundaries of the proposed district;

2. Describe the transportation facilities proposed within the district;

3. Describe a proposed plan for providing such transportation facilities within the district and describe specific terms and conditions with respect to all commercial and industrial zoning classifications and uses, densities, and criteria related thereto which the petitioners request for the proposed district;

4. Describe the benefits that can be expected from the provision of such transportation facilities within the district; and

5. Request each board to establish the proposed district for the purposes set forth in the petition.

B. Upon the filing of such a petition, each local board of supervisors shall fix a day for a hearing on the question of whether the proposed district shall be created. The hearing shall consider whether the residents and owners of real property within the proposed district would benefit from the establishment of the proposed district. All interested persons who either reside in or who own taxable real property within the boundaries of the proposed district may appear and show cause why any property or properties should not be included in the proposed district. If real property situated within a town is included in the proposed district, the board of supervisors shall deliver a copy of the petition and notice of the public hearing thereon to the town council at least 30 days prior to the public hearing, and the town council may, by resolution, determine if it wishes such property to be included within the proposed district and shall deliver a copy of any such resolution to the board of supervisors at the public hearing required hereunder; the resolution shall be binding upon the board of supervisors with respect to the inclusion or exclusion of such properties within the proposed district. The petition shall comply with the provisions of this section with respect to minimum acreage or assessed valuation. Notice of the hearing shall be given by publication once a week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation within the county. At least 10 days shall intervene between the third publication and the date set for the hearing.

C. If each board of supervisors finds the creation of the proposed district would be in furtherance of the applicable county comprehensive plan for the development of the area, in the best interests of the residents and owners of real property within the proposed district, and in furtherance of the public health, safety, and general welfare, each board of supervisors shall pass a resolution, which shall be reasonably consistent with the petition, creating the district and providing for the appointment of an advisory board in accordance with § 15.2-4605. Each resolution shall provide a description with specific terms and conditions of all commercial and industrial zoning classifications that shall be in force in the district upon its creation, together with any related criteria, and a term of years, not to exceed 20 years, as to which each such zoning classification and each related criterion set forth therein shall not be eliminated, reduced, or restricted if a special tax is imposed as provided in § 15.2-4607. However, this commitment shall not limit the legislative prerogative of the board of supervisors in any county in which a district is wholly or partly located with respect to land use approvals of any kind arising from requests initiated by an owner of property therein, or as specifically required to comply with the provisions of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act (§ 62.1-44.15:67 et seq.) or the regulations adopted pursuant thereto, or other state law, or the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. § 1342(p)) and regulations promulgated thereunder by the federal Environmental Protection Agency or applicable state regulations.

Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this subsection, in the case of any district created under this section prior to July 1, 1992, all commercial and industrial zoning classifications, and all zoning ordinance text and regulations relating thereto, including site plan regulations, regarding allowable uses, densities, setbacks, building heights, required parking, and open space in force in the district on the date of the district's creation, shall be deemed to have been a part of the ordinance creating the district and shall remain at least as permissive without limitation, reduction, or restriction, except as provided in this section with respect to land use approvals of any kind or nature arising from requests initiated by landowners or as required to comply with the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act or regulations adopted pursuant thereto, other state law or the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. § 1342(p)) and regulations promulgated thereunder by the federal Environmental Protection Agency or applicable state regulations, until the earlier of July 1, 2037, or for a period of 15 years from the date the district was created so long as there remain any outstanding monetary obligations of the district or the commission incurred pursuant to the powers of the commission set forth in this chapter. Any rezonings, with respect to individual parcels of land in a district that have been duly approved by a board of supervisors prior to July 1, 1992, shall remain in effect, regardless of who initiated such rezonings. Each resolution shall also provide that the district shall expire either 35 years from the date upon which the resolution is passed or when the district is abolished in accordance with § 15.2-4616; however, the term of any district created under this chapter is extended for a period of 15 years beyond any such 35-year term.

After the public hearing, each board of supervisors shall deliver a true copy of its proposed resolution creating the district to the petitioning landowners or their attorney-in-fact. Any petitioning landowner may then withdraw his signature on the petition in writing at any time prior to the vote of the board of supervisors. If any signatures on the petition are withdrawn as provided herein, the board of supervisors may pass the proposed resolution in conformance herewith only upon certification that the petition continues to meet the provisions of subsection A with respect to minimum acreage or assessed value, as the case may be. After the boards of supervisors have adopted resolutions creating the district, the district shall be established, and the name of the district shall be "The ____ Transportation Improvement District."

1997, c. 587; 2000, c. 435; 2002, c. 770.

§ 15.2-4604. Commission established.

The powers of the local district created in accordance with this chapter shall be exercised by a commission composed of four of the elected members of each of the boards of supervisors of the counties in which it is located, appointed by their respective boards of supervisors. The Chairman of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or his designee, shall be an ex officio member of the commission.

The members of the commission shall elect one of their number chairman. The chairman may or may not be the chairman or presiding officer of a board of supervisors. In addition, commission members, with the advice of the district advisory board, shall elect a secretary and treasurer, who may or may not be a member or employee of a board of supervisors or other governmental body represented on the commission. The offices of secretary and treasurer may be combined. A majority of commission members shall constitute a quorum, and the vote of a majority of the commission membership shall be necessary for any action taken by the commission. No vacancy in the membership of the commission shall impair the right of a majority of the members to form a quorum or to exercise all of its rights, powers, and duties. The 1990 amendments to the provisions of this paragraph shall not be effective for the Route 28 Primary Highway Transportation Improvement District until such time as the special tax revenues from the District exceed the total debt service on the bonds issued pursuant to Chapter 676 of the 1988 Acts of Assembly for three consecutive years.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4605. Creation of district advisory boards.

Within 30 days after the establishment of a district in accordance with the procedures provided in § 15.2-4603, the commission shall appoint a district advisory board of 12 members, consisting of: three members appointed by the board of supervisors of each participating county, each of whom either resides on or owns land within that portion of the district that is located in the county from which the member is appointed or is a designee of a landowner as described below; three members who own land zoned for commercial or industrial use within that portion of the district from each participating county or who are designees of landowners as described below who are elected by the landowners of the district, voting on a basis weighted by acreage owned or assessed value, as the case may be. Such elections may be conducted by the commission by mail ballot of owners of land within that portion of the district in each participating county. A corporation owning land within the district may designate one of its officers or employees, and a partnership owning land within the district may designate an individual who is one of its general partners, and such designees are eligible to be appointed members of the district advisory board. Each member shall be appointed for a definite term of four years, except the initial appointment of advisory board members shall provide that the terms of half of the members shall be for two years. Thereafter, elections shall be conducted biennially on the anniversary of the creation of the district in the same manner as described in the preceding provisions of this section. Members may be reelected or reappointed, provided that they, or the corporation or partnership they represent, own land zoned for commercial or industrial use within the district at the time of their reelection or reappointment. If a vacancy occurs with respect to an advisory member initially elected by a board of supervisors, or any successor of such a member, that board of supervisors shall appoint a new member who is a resident or landowner within the local district. If a vacancy occurs with respect to an advisory member initially elected by landowners, or any successor of such a member, then the board of supervisors shall appoint a new board member who is a landowner within the district elected in the manner provided in this section.

The members shall serve without pay, but the commission shall provide the advisory board with facilities for holding meetings and shall appropriate funds needed to defray the reasonable expenses and fees of the board, which shall not exceed $20,000 annually, including, without limitation, expenses and fees arising out of the preparation of the annual report. Such appropriations shall be based on an annual budget submitted by the advisory board, approved by the commission, sufficient to carry out its responsibilities under this chapter. The advisory board shall elect a chairman and a secretary and such other officers as it deems necessary. The board shall fix the time for holding regular meetings, but it shall meet at least once every year. Special meetings of the board shall be called by the chairman or by two members of the board upon written request to the secretary of the board. A majority of the members shall constitute a quorum. The 1990 amendments to the provisions of this paragraph shall not be effective for the Route 28 Primary Highway Transportation Improvement District until such time as the special tax revenues from the District exceed the total debt service on the bonds issued pursuant to Chapter 676 of the 1988 Acts of Assembly for three consecutive years.

The advisory board shall present an annual report to the commission on the transportation needs of the district and on the activities of the board, and the advisory board shall present special reports on transportation matters as requested by the commission or the board of supervisors of either county concerning taxes to be levied pursuant to § 15.2-4607.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4606. Powers and duties of commission.

The commission shall have the following powers and duties:

1. To construct, reconstruct, alter, improve, and expand (i) any public mass transit system in the district or (ii) any primary highway located within the district having no more than two through travel lanes as of January 1, 1987, which is located in both counties that comprise the district and which was not financed under the authority provided by the Commonwealth of Virginia Transportation Facilities Bond Act of 1979.

2. To acquire by gift, purchase, lease, in-kind contribution to construction costs, or otherwise any public mass transit system or primary highway transportation improvements in the district and to sell, lease as lessor, transfer, or dispose of any part of any transportation improvements in such manner and upon such terms as the commission may determine to be in the best interests of the district. However, prior to disposing of any such property or interest therein, the commission shall conduct a public hearing regarding such disposition. At the hearing, the residents and owners of property within the district shall have an opportunity to be heard. At least 10 days' notice of the time and place of such hearing shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the district, as prescribed by the commission. Such public hearing may be adjourned from time to time.

3. To negotiate and contract with any person, authority, or state or federal agency or instrumentality with regard to any matter necessary and proper to provide any public mass transit system or primary highway transportation facility, including the financing, acquisition, construction, reconstruction, alteration, improvement, expansion, or maintenance of any transportation improvements in the district. No such contract shall extend for a period that exceeds 30 years.

4. To enter into a continuing service contract for a purpose authorized by this chapter and to make payments of the proceeds received from the special taxes levied pursuant to § 15.2-4607, together with any other revenues, for the payment of installments due under that service contract. The district may apply such payments annually during the term of that service contract in an amount sufficient to make the installment payments due under the contract, subject to the limitation imposed by § 15.2-4607. However, payments for any such service contract shall be conditioned upon the receipt of services pursuant to the contract. Such a contract may not obligate a county to make payments for services of the district.

5. To accept the allocations, contributions, or funds of, or to reimburse from, any available source, including any person, authority, or state or federal agency or instrumentality, for either the whole or any part of the costs, expenses, and charges incident to the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, maintenance, alteration, improvement, and expansion of any transportation improvements in the district.

6. To contract for the extension and use of any public mass transit system or primary highway into territory outside of the local district on such terms and conditions as the commission determines.

7. To employ and fix the compensation of personnel who may be deemed necessary for the construction, operation, or maintenance of any public mass transit system or primary highway in the district.

8. To have prepared an annual audit of the district's financial obligations and revenues and, upon review of such audit, to request a tax rate adequate to provide tax revenues that, together with all other revenues, are required by the district to fulfill its annual obligations.

9. To invest any funds received pursuant to § 15.2-4608 that are not otherwise obligated to make payments to the Commonwealth Transportation Board or to any other purpose, in accordance with the Investment of Public Funds Act (§ 2.2-4500 et seq.).

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4607. Annual special improvements tax; use of revenues.

Upon the written request of the district commission made concurrently to both boards of supervisors pursuant to subdivision 8 of § 15.2-4606, each board of supervisors may levy and collect an annual special improvements tax on taxable real estate zoned for commercial or industrial use or used for such purposes and taxable leasehold interests in that portion of the improvement district within its jurisdiction. Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 4 (§ 58.1-3229 et seq.) of Chapter 32 of Title 58.1, the tax shall be levied upon the assessed fair market value of the taxable real property. The rate of the special improvements tax shall not be more than $0.20 per $100 of the assessed fair market value of any taxable real estate or the assessable value of taxable leasehold property as specified by § 58.1-3203. Such special improvement taxes shall be collected at the same time and in the same manner as county taxes are collected, and the proceeds shall be kept in a separate account. The effective date of the initial assessment shall be January 1 of the year following adoption of the resolution creating and establishing the district. All revenues received by each county pursuant to such taxes shall be paid to or at the direction of the district commission for its use pursuant to §§ 15.2-4606 and 15.2-4608.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4608. Agreements with Commonwealth Transportation Board; payment of special improvements tax to Transportation Trust Fund.

A. The district may contract with the Commonwealth Transportation Board for the Board to perform any of the purposes of the district.

The district may agree by contract to pay over all or a portion of the special improvements tax and all or a portion of the sums received pursuant to subsection C to the Commonwealth Transportation Board, which shall hold such sums in and disburse them from a special account. The Commonwealth Transportation Board shall have the right to assign, convey, pay over, or deliver such sums to a third party in connection with the provision of services to the district pursuant to an agreement entered into under this chapter or any other applicable law.

Prior to executing any such contract, the district shall seek the agreement of each board of supervisors creating the district that the county administrator or other officer charged with the responsibility for preparing the county's annual budget shall submit in the budget for each fiscal year in which any Commonwealth of Virginia transportation contract revenue bonds issued for such district are outstanding, all amounts to be paid to the Commonwealth Transportation Board under such contract during such fiscal year.

If the amount required to be paid to the Commonwealth Transportation Board under the contract is not paid for a period of 60 days after the amount is due, the Commonwealth Transportation Board is hereby directed, until the amount has been paid, to withhold sufficient funds from funds appropriated and allocated, pursuant to the highway allocation formula as provided by law, to the highway construction district in which a project covered by such contract is located or to any county in which such project is located and to use such funds to satisfy the contractual requirements.

B. While nothing in this article shall limit the authority of any county to change the classification of any parcel of land zoned for commercial or industrial use or used for such purpose, upon the written request or approval of the owner of the property affected by such change after the effective date of any such contract, except for changes in zoning classification from commercial or industrial use to residential use approved in accordance with subsection C, should a change in zoning classification so requested result in a shortfall in the total annual revenues from the imposition of the special improvements tax and the payments required to be made to the Commonwealth Transportation Board pursuant to the contract, the district shall request the board of supervisors to increase the rate of such tax by such amount up to the maximum authorized rate as may be necessary to prevent such shortfall. If, however, a deficit remains after any rezoning and adjustment of the tax rate or the rate is at the maximum authorized rate and cannot be increased, then the amount of funds otherwise appropriated and allocated pursuant to the highway allocation formula as provided by Article 5 (§ 33.2-351 et seq.) of Chapter 3 of Title 33.2 to the highway construction district in which a project covered by such contract is located or to a county in which such project is located shall be reduced by the amount of such deficit and used to satisfy the deficit.

C. For any property within the district for which a county changes its zoning classification from commercial or industrial use to residential use upon the written request or approval of the owner, the county shall require the simultaneous payment from the property owner of a sum representing the present value of the future special improvements taxes estimated by the county to be lost as a result of such change in classification. On a case-by-case basis, however, the board of supervisors may, in its sole discretion, defer for no more than 60 days the effective date of such change in zoning classification. Upon deferral, the lump sum provided for in this subsection shall be paid to the county in immediately available funds acceptable to the county before the deferred effective date. If the landowner fails to make this lump sum payment as and when required, the change in zoning classification shall not become effective and the ordinance shall be void. Special improvements taxes previously paid in the year of the zoning change may be credited toward the payment on a prorated basis. The portion of the payment that may be credited shall be that portion of the year following the change in zoning classification. The district and the Commonwealth Transportation Board shall agree to a method of calculating the present value of the loss of future special improvements taxes resulting from such a change in zoning classification and the procedure for payment of such funds to the Commonwealth Transportation Board. Sums paid pursuant to this subsection that represent the estimated special improvements taxes that otherwise would have been imposed upon the rezoned property in any given year shall be included in calculations that may be made pursuant to §§ 15.2-4604 and 15.2-4605 in order to determine whether special tax revenues from the district have exceeded total debt service on the bonds issued pursuant to Chapter 676 of the 1988 Acts of Assembly for three consecutive years. Whenever any county acts in accordance with such an agreement between the district and the Commonwealth Transportation Board, the change in zoning classification shall not be considered to have resulted in a shortfall in the total annual revenues from the imposition of the special improvements tax and the payments required to be made to the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

1997, c. 587; 2002, c. 770.

§ 15.2-4609. Jurisdiction of counties and officers, etc., not affected.

Neither the creation of a district nor any other provision in this chapter shall affect the power, jurisdiction, or duties of the respective local governing bodies, sheriffs, treasurers, commissioners of the revenue, circuit, district, or other courts, clerks of any court, magistrates, or any other county or state officer in regard to the area embraced in any district or restrict or prevent any county or town or its governing body from imposing and collecting taxes or assessments for public improvements as permitted by law. Any county that creates a district pursuant to this section may obligate itself with respect to the zoning ordinances, zoning ordinance text, and regulations relating thereto for all commercial and industrial classifications within the district as provided in subsection C of § 15.2-4603 for a term not to exceed 20 years from the date on which such district is created.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4610. Allocation of funds to local transportation districts.

The board of supervisors of any county that has created a local district pursuant to § 15.2-4603 may advance funds, or provide matching funds, from money not otherwise specifically allocated or obligated, from whatever source received or generated, including without limitation general revenues, special fees and assessments, state allocations, and contributions from private sources, to a local district to assist the local district to undertake the project for which it was created. The Commonwealth Transportation Board may allocate funds to a district only from the construction district or districts in which such transportation district is located pursuant to the highway allocation formula to assist the district with an approved project as provided by law.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4611. Reimbursement for advances to local transportation district.

The commission shall direct the district treasurer to reimburse the county or town from any funds of the district not otherwise specifically allocated or obligated, to the extent that a county or town has made advances.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4612. Cooperation between districts and other political subdivisions.

Any local district created under the provisions of this chapter may enter into agreements with localities and other political subdivisions within the Commonwealth for joint or cooperative action in accordance with the authority contained in § 15.2-1300.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4613. Tort liability.

No pecuniary liability of any kind shall be imposed on the Commonwealth or on any county, town, or landowner therein because of any act, agreement, contract, tort, malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance, by or on the part of a district created under this chapter or its agents, servants, or employees.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4614. Approval by Commonwealth Transportation Board.

The district may not construct or improve a mass transit system or public highway without the approval of the Commonwealth Transportation Board and without the approval of each county in which the transportation improvement will be located. At the request of the commission, the Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner may exercise his powers of condemnation pursuant to Chapter 2 (§ 25.1-200 et seq.) of Title 25.1 or 3 (§ 25.1-300 et seq.) of Title 25.1 or § 33.2-705 for the purpose of acquiring property for transportation improvements within the district. Upon completion of the construction or improvement, the Commonwealth Transportation Board shall take the public highway into the primary system of state highways for purposes of maintenance and subsequent improvement as necessary. Upon acceptance by the Commonwealth of the highway into the primary system of highways, all rights, title, and interest in the right-of-way held by the commission and improvements of such highway shall vest in the Commonwealth. Upon completion of the construction or improvement of a mass transit system, all rights, title, and interest in the right-of-way and improvements of the mass transit system shall vest in the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission or other agency or instrumentality of the Commonwealth.

1997, c. 587.