Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns
6/24/2018

Subtitle III. Boundary Adjustments and Changes of Status of Counties, Cities and Towns.

Chapter 29. Commission on Local Government.

§ 15.2-2900. Purpose and intent.

It is the purpose and intent of the General Assembly to create a procedure whereby the Commonwealth will help ensure that all of its localities are maintained as viable communities in which their citizens can live. To carry out this purpose and intent, there is hereby established the Commission on Local Government.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-945.1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2901. Membership; appointment, terms and qualifications of members; vacancies; Executive Director.

The Commission shall consist of five members appointed by the Governor subject to confirmation by the General Assembly. The members' terms of office shall be for five years except that original appointments shall be made for such terms that the term of one member shall expire each year. Members initially appointed shall take office on January 1, 1980; thereafter, the members appointed for regular terms shall take office at the beginning of the term for which appointed and those appointed to fill vacancies shall take office immediately upon their appointment. Members shall be eligible for reappointment.

Each member shall, at the time of appointment and during his term of office, be a qualified voter under the Constitution and laws of the Commonwealth and shall further be a person qualified by knowledge and experience in local government. No member of the Commission shall hold any other elective or appointive public office. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, no person shall be disqualified from membership on the Commission by virtue of any employment held by him with the United States or a public institution of higher education.

Any vacancy in the membership of the Commission shall be filled for the unexpired term in the same manner in which the original appointment was made.

The Director of the Department of Housing and Community Development shall also serve as the Executive Director of the Commission, who shall employ such personnel as may be required to carry out the purposes of this chapter. The Executive Director shall also (i) make and enter into contracts as necessary or incidental to the performance of the Commission's duties; (ii) accept grants from the United States or other sources; (iii) exercise supervision of the administration of Commission affairs; and (iv) prepare and submit a budget to the Governor as requested.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-945.2; 1980, c. 728; 1984, c. 444; 1985, c. 397; 1997, c. 587; 2003, c. 197.

§ 15.2-2902. Continuing temporary membership for purposes of Commission reports.

A member whose term expires and who is not reappointed may continue to serve as a temporary member of the Commission if a final report has not been made on an issue with respect to which he has participated in previous hearings, presentations, or investigations prior to the expiration of his term. Such continuing temporary membership shall be solely for the purpose of and limited to participation in the specific report. The beginning of the term of, and the rights, powers, and duties of the successor to the member whose term has expired shall not be affected by such continuing temporary membership.

1985, c. 478, § 15.1-945.2:1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2903. General powers and duties of Commission.

The Commission shall have the following general powers and duties:

1. To make regulations, including rules of procedure for the conducting of hearings;

2. To keep a record of its proceedings and to be responsible for the custody and preservation of its papers and documents;

3. To serve as a mediator between localities;

4. To investigate, analyze, and make findings of fact, as directed by law, as to the probable effect on the people residing in any area of the Commonwealth of any proposed action in that area:

a. To annex territory,

b. To have an area declared immune from annexation,

c. To establish a town or independent city,

d. To settle or adjust boundaries between localities,

e. To make a transition from city status to town status,

f. To make a transition from a county to a city,

g. To consolidate two or more localities, at least one of which is a county, into a city, or

h. To enter into economic growth-sharing agreements among localities;

5. To conduct investigations, analyses and determinations, in the sole discretion of the Commission, for the guidance of localities in the conduct of their affairs upon the request of such localities;

6. To receive from all agencies, as defined in § 2.2-128, assessments of all mandates imposed on localities administered by such agencies. The assessments shall be conducted on a schedule to be set by the Commission, with the approval of the Governor and the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, provided that the assessments shall not be required to be performed more than once every four years. The purpose of the assessments shall be to determine which mandates, if any, may be altered or eliminated. If an assessment reveals that such mandates may be altered or eliminated without interruption of local service delivery and without undue threat to the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Commonwealth, the Commission shall so advise the Governor and the General Assembly;

7. To prepare and annually update a catalog of state and federal mandates imposed on localities including, where available, a summary of the fiscal impact on localities of all new mandates. All departments, agencies of government, and localities are directed to make available such information and assistance as the Commission may request in maintaining the catalog;

8. At the direction of the Governor, to assist a five-member task force appointed by the Governor to review state mandates imposed on localities and to recommend temporary suspension or permanent repeal of such mandates, or any other action, as appropriate. The Governor shall have all necessary authority granted under § 2.2-113, or any other provision of law, to implement the task force recommendations or may recommend legislation to the General Assembly as needed. The task force shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Governor and shall serve without compensation. The task force may include city or town managers, county administrators, members of local governing bodies and members of appointed or elected school boards. All agencies of the Commonwealth shall provide assistance to the Commission, upon request. The provisions of this subdivision shall expire July 1, 2018; and

9. To perform such other duties as may be imposed upon it, from time to time, by law.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-945.3; 1980, c. 592; 1984, c. 444; 1985, cc. 397, 478; 1988, c. 881; 1993, cc. 652, 723; 1997, c. 587; 2004, c. 234; 2011, c. 381; 2014, c. 242.

§ 15.2-2904. Meetings; quorum; majority vote; panel to conduct investigation and make report; compensation and expenses.

The Commission shall fix the time and place for holding regular meetings, which shall be held at least once every two months. Special meetings of the Commission may be called by any member and shall be held on such occasions as may be reasonably necessary to carry out the duties imposed by this chapter. The chairman shall cause to be mailed to all members, at least five days in advance of a special meeting, written notice fixing the time, place, and purpose of such meeting. Written notice of a special meeting shall not be required if the time of the special meeting has been fixed at a regular meeting or if all members file a written waiver of notice. A majority of the members shall constitute a quorum, and no action of the Commission shall be valid unless authorized by a majority vote of those present.

The Commission may appoint a panel of three members of the Commission to conduct any hearing and investigation and make any report required by this chapter. Any vote taken or report made shall be only by those members of the Commission who sat on the panel that heard the evidence. Any temporary absence of a panel member from a hearing will not disqualify such member from participation in the vote or discussion, deliberation, drafting or approval of a report.

Notwithstanding the provisions of § 2.2-2813, each member of the Commission shall be compensated at the rate of $100 per day, plus reasonable and necessary expenses, for each day or portion thereof in which the member is engaged in the business of the Commission.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-945.4; 1980, c. 592; 1983, c. 202; 1986, c. 384; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2905. Officers.

The members of the Commission shall elect from their number a chairman and vice-chairman whose terms shall be for one year. The Commission may create and fill such other offices as it may deem necessary.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-945.5; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2906. Disqualification of Commissioners.

No member of the Commission shall participate in the discussion, deliberation, drafting or approval of any report or finding required to be made under this chapter when any of the parties to the proceeding to which such report relates is a locality in which such member presently resides or owns an interest in real property, or in which such member has resided or owned any interest in real property within the preceding five years.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-945.6; 1980, c. 592; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2907. Actions for annexation, immunity, establishment of city, etc.; investigations and reports by Commission; negotiation.

A. No locality or person shall file any action in any court in Virginia to annex territory, to have an area declared immune from annexation based upon provision of urban-type services, to establish an independent city, to consolidate two or more localities, at least one of which is a county, into a city, to make a transition from a county to a city or to make a transition from city status to town status, without first notifying the Commission and all local governments located within or contiguous to, or sharing functions, revenue, or tax sources with, the locality proposing such action. Upon receipt of the notice the Commission shall hold hearings, make investigations, analyze local needs and make findings of facts and recommendations, which may, in cases where immunity or annexation is sought, recommend a grant of immunity or annexation of a greater or smaller area than that proposed by the locality pursuant to the procedures of this chapter. Such findings shall be rendered within six months after the Commission receives notice from the locality intending to file court action, provided that the Commission on its own motion may extend the period for filing its report by no more than sixty days. No further extension thereafter of the time for filing shall be made by the Commission without the agreement of the parties. No court action may be filed until the Commission has made its findings of facts. Unless the parties agree otherwise, no court action may be filed more than 180 days after the Commission renders its final report as provided for in this section. While the matter is before the Commission, the Commission may actively seek to negotiate a settlement of the proposed action between the affected localities. The Commission may direct that the conduct of the negotiations be in executive session. In addition, the Commission may, with the agreement of the parties, appoint an independent mediator, who shall be compensated as agreed to by the parties. Offers and statements made in negotiations shall not be reported in the finding of facts or introduced in evidence in any subsequent court proceedings between the parties.

B. The Commission shall report, in writing, its findings and recommendations to the affected localities, any other localities likely to be affected by such proposed action, and to any court which may subsequently consider the action. The report shall be based upon the criteria and standards established by law for any such proposed action. The report, or any copy thereof, bearing the signature of the chairman of the Commission shall be admissible in evidence in any subsequent proceeding relating to the subject matter thereof. The court in any such proceeding shall consider the report but shall not be bound by the report's findings or recommendations.

Before making the report the Commission shall conduct hearings at which any interested person may testify. Prior to the hearing, the Commission shall publish a notice of the hearing once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the affected counties and cities. The second advertisement shall appear not less than six days nor more than twenty-one days prior to the hearing.

C. A court on motion of any party or of the Commission may for cause shown extend the time for filing of the Commission's report but no such extension of time shall exceed ninety days unless the parties agree otherwise.

D. Except for any hearing or meeting specifically required by law, Chapter 37 (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.) of Title 2.2 shall not be applicable to the Commission nor meetings convened by members of the Commission, its employees, or by its designated mediators with local governing bodies or members thereof, nor shall such chapter be applicable to meetings of local governing bodies, or members thereof, held for purpose of negotiating any issues which are or would be subject to the Commission's review. Offers and statements made in any negotiation or mediation activity conducted under the direction of the Commission shall not be recorded in any report issued by the Commission, nor shall they be introduced in evidence in any subsequent court proceeding by the Commission or any other party.

E. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any locality, either prior or subsequent to the filing of any annexation or partial immunity suit in any court of this Commonwealth in which it is one of the parties, may notify the Commission on Local Government that it desires to attempt to negotiate an agreement with one or more adjacent localities relative to annexation or partial immunity under the direction of the Commission. A copy of the notice shall be served on all adjacent localities. The affected localities shall then attempt to resolve their differences relative to annexation or partial immunity, and shall keep the Commission advised of the progress being made. The Commission, or its designee, may serve as a mediator and the Commission's staff and resources shall be available to the negotiating localities. All expenses of the negotiations, including expenses of the Commission or its staff incurred in the negotiations, shall be borne by the parties initiating the notice unless otherwise agreed by the parties. All suits for either annexation or partial immunity by or against any locality involved in such negotiations shall be stayed while the negotiations are in progress. If, after a hearing, the Commission finds that none of the parties is willing to continue to negotiate, or if it finds that three months have elapsed with no substantial progress toward settlement, it shall declare the negotiations to be terminated. Unless the parties agree otherwise, negotiations shall in any event terminate twelve months from the date the initial notice was given to the Commission. Immediately upon such finding and declaration by the Commission, or upon the expiration of twelve months from the initial notice or any agreed extension thereof, whichever first occurs, any stay of a pending suit for annexation or partial immunity entered under this section shall automatically terminate and no new notice to negotiate shall thereafter be filed by any party.

F. A locality may proceed simultaneously under subsections A and E of this section.

1980, c. 558, 577, 592, § 15.1-945.7; 1983, c. 217; 1985, c. 478; 1988, c. 881; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2908. Notice to Commission deemed to institute action or proceeding.

An action or proceeding to which the Commission on Local Government has jurisdiction shall be deemed to have been instituted upon the initial notice to the Commission required by subsection A of § 15.2-2907.

1985, c. 478, § 15.1-945.8; 1997, c. 587.

Chapter 30. Special Courts.

§ 15.2-3000. Special court to hear certain cases.

Notwithstanding any contrary provision of law, whenever any matter provided for in Chapters 32 (§ 15.2-3200 et seq.), 33 (§ 15.2-3300 et seq.), 34 (§ 15.2-3400 et seq.), 35 (§ 15.2-3500 et seq.), 36 (§ 15.2-3600 et seq.), 38 (§ 15.2-3800 et seq.), 39, (§ 15.2-3900 et seq.), 40 (§ 15.2-4000 et seq.) and 41 (§ 15.2-4100 et seq.) of this title, is required to be decided by a court, the court, unless a different intent appears from the context, shall be composed of three circuit court judges appointed by the Supreme Court of Virginia. Such special court shall sit without a jury. The three judges shall be chosen from a panel of fifteen judges selected to hear such matters by the Supreme Court. Such judges shall remain on the panel for a period of time determined by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court unless otherwise provided by law. When any petition or other matter required by the above-stated chapters to be decided by the special court is filed in a circuit court, the chief circuit court judge shall certify the filing to the Supreme Court and request the appointment of three members from the panel to hear the matter. No judge may be appointed to hear a matter involving jurisdictions in his own circuit.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1168; 1983, c. 523; 1985, c. 66; 1988, c. 881; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3001. Priority of proceedings in special courts.

Any proceeding heard by a special court appointed pursuant to §§ 15.2-3000 and 15.2-3002 shall have priority over all other cases, including criminal cases, on the docket of the court in which such proceeding is pending or on the docket of each judge designated to hear the case.

1993, c. 398, § 15.1-1168.1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3002. Designation of judges for panel.

The Supreme Court of Virginia shall designate fifteen circuit court judges to compose the panel of judges provided for in this chapter. All special courts appointed pursuant to § 15.2-3000 shall be composed of three judges appointed from this panel. The chief justice shall designate one of the judges as chief judge.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1169; 1993, c. 398; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3003. Service on special court.

Judges selected for the panel shall continue to perform their regular duties as required by law. Appointment by the Supreme Court to sit on a three-judge court shall relieve the judge of his other duties to the extent necessary to serve on the three-judge court and participate in the proceedings and decision.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1170; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3004. Vacancies on court occurring during trial.

If a vacancy occurs on such court at any time prior to the final disposition of the case and the completion of all duties required to be performed by it, the court shall not be dissolved and the proceeding shall not fail; the vacancy shall be filled by designation of another judge from the panel provided for in this chapter. Such substitute judge shall have all the power and authority of his predecessor, and the court shall proceed as so constituted to hear and determine the case and do all things necessary to accomplish its final disposition and the completion of all the duties of the court, including such matters as the certification of evidence and exceptions. No decision shall be rendered or action taken after such designation with respect to any question previously submitted to but not decided by the court except after a full hearing in open court by the court as reconstituted of all the evidence theretofore introduced before the court and a hearing of all arguments theretofore made with reference to such question.

Code 1950, § 15-152.9; 1952, c. 328; 1960, c. 474; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1039; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

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. An appeal may be granted by the Supreme Court, or any justice thereof, to either party from the judgment of the court, and the cost of such appeal shall be awarded to the party substantially prevailing.

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.

§ 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) regarding the boundary between the Counties of Louisa and Goochland or between the County of Loudoun and any town therein, 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, regarding the boundary between the Counties of Louisa and Goochland or between the County of Loudoun and any town therein, 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.

§ 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.

Chapter 32. Boundary Changes of Towns and Cities.

Article 1. Annexation.

§ 15.2-3200. Boundaries of cities and towns to remain as established until changed.

The boundaries of the cities and towns of this Commonwealth shall be and remain as now established unless changed as provided in this title.

Code 1950, § 15-152.2; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1032; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3201. Temporary restrictions on granting of city charters, filing annexation notices, institutions of annexation proceedings, and county immunity proceedings.

Beginning January 1, 1987, and terminating on the first to occur of (i) July 1, 2024, or (ii) the July 1 next following the expiration of any biennium, other than the 1998-2000, 2000-2002, 2002-2004, 2006-2008, 2008-2010, 2010-2012, 2012-2014, 2014-2016, 2016-2018, 2018-2020, 2020-2022, and 2022-2024 bienniums, during which the General Assembly appropriated for distribution to localities for aid in their law-enforcement expenditures pursuant to Article 8 (§ 9.1-165 et seq.) of Chapter 1 of Title 9.1 an amount that is less than the total amount required to be appropriated for such purpose pursuant to subsection A of § 9.1-169, no city shall file against any county an annexation notice with the Commission on Local Government pursuant to § 15.2-2907, and no city shall institute an annexation court action against any county under any provision of this chapter except a city that filed an annexation notice before the Commission on Local Government prior to January 1, 1987. During the same period, with the exception of a charter for a proposed consolidated city, no city charter shall be granted or come into force and no suit or notice shall be filed to secure a city charter. However, the foregoing shall not prohibit the institution of nor require the stay of an annexation proceeding or the filing of an annexation notice for the purpose of implementing an annexation agreement, the extent, terms and conditions of which have been agreed upon by a county and city; nor shall the foregoing prohibit the institution of or require the stay of an annexation proceeding by a city which, prior to January 1, 1987, commenced a proceeding before the Commission on Local Government to review a proposed voluntary settlement pursuant to § 15.2-3400; nor shall the foregoing prohibit the institution of or require the stay of any annexation proceeding commenced pursuant to § 15.2-2907 or 15.2-3203, except that no such proceeding may be commenced by a city against any county, nor shall any city be a petitioner in any annexation proceeding instituted pursuant to § 15.2-3203.

Beginning January 1, 1988, and terminating on the first to occur of (i) July 1, 2024, or (ii) the July 1 next following the expiration of any biennium, other than the 1998-2000, 2000-2002, 2002-2004, 2006-2008, 2008-2010, 2010-2012, 2012-2014, 2014-2016, 2016-2018, 2018-2020, 2020-2022, and 2022-2024 bienniums, during which the General Assembly appropriated for distribution to localities for aid in their law-enforcement expenditures pursuant to Article 8 (§ 9.1-165 et seq.) of Chapter 1 of Title 9.1 an amount that is less than the total amount required to be appropriated for such purpose pursuant to subsection A of § 9.1-169, no county shall file a notice or petition pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 29 (§ 15.2-2900 et seq.) or Chapter 33 (§ 15.2-3300 et seq.) requesting total or partial immunity from city-initiated annexation and from the incorporation of new cities within its boundaries. However, the foregoing shall not prohibit the institution of nor require the stay of an immunity proceeding or the filing of an immunity notice for the purpose of implementing an immunity agreement, the extent, terms and conditions of which have been agreed upon by a county and city.

1987, c. 216, § 15.1-1032.2; 1988, c. 270; 1989, c. 134; 1990, c. 759; 1991, c. 359; 1993, c. 611; 1994, c. 557; 1996, cc. 225, 572; 1997, c. 587; 1999, cc. 692, 705, 744; 2001, c. 733; 2002, c. 786; 2004, c. 879; 2008, c. 347; 2009, cc. 129, 435, 631; 2012, c. 537; 2014, c. 697; 2016, cc. 158, 364.

§ 15.2-3202. Ordinance for annexation by city or town; appointment of special court.

The council of any city or town may by an ordinance passed by a recorded affirmative vote of a majority of all the members elected to the council, petition the circuit court for the county in which any territory adjacent to the city or town lies, for the annexation of such territory. The circuit court with which the petition is filed shall notify the Supreme Court, which shall appoint a special court to hear the case as prescribed by Chapter 30 (§ 15.2-3000 et seq.) of this title.

The ordinance shall set forth the necessity for or expediency of annexation and shall contain the following detailed information:

1. Metes and bounds and size of area sought;

2. Information, which may be shown on a map annexed to the ordinance, of the area sought to be annexed, indicating generally subdivisions, industrial areas, farm areas, vacant areas and others, together with any other information deemed relevant as to possible future uses of property within the area. If a map is not annexed as part of the ordinance, then such information shall be set forth in the ordinance;

3. A general statement of the terms and conditions upon which annexation is sought, and the provisions planned for the future improvement of the annexed territory, including the provision of public utilities and services therein.

Code 1950, § 15-152.3; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1033; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3203. Petition by voters of adjacent territory, or governing body of adjacent county or town, for annexation; voluntary agreement by governing body to reject annexation.

A. Whenever fifty-one percent of the voters of any territory adjacent to any city or town or fifty-one percent of the owners of real estate in number and land area in a designated area, or the governing body of the county in which such territory is located, or of the town desiring to annex such territory petition the circuit court for the county, stating that it is desirable that such territory be annexed to the city or town and setting forth the metes and bounds thereof, a copy of such petition shall be served on the city or town council, and published in the manner prescribed in § 15.2-3204. The case shall, except as otherwise provided in this chapter, proceed in all respects as though instituted in the manner prescribed in § 15.2-3202; however, the special court shall not increase the area of the territory described in the petition.

B. Any city or town to which the annexation is proposed may reject such annexation by ordinance, duly adopted by a majority of the elected members of the governing body of the city or town, if such ordinance is adopted either prior to the pretrial conference provided for in § 15.2-3207 or within the time limits set forth in § 15.2-3213.

C. Any county, city or town may enter into a voluntary agreement with any other county, city or town or combination thereof, whereby such city or town agrees to reject any annexations initiated under subsection A. Such agreement may be for such period of time as specified by the parties to such agreement with respect to all or a portion of the county.

Code 1950, § 15-152.4; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1034; 1979, c. 85; 1983, c. 594; 1985, c. 478; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3204. Notice of motion; service and publication.

At least thirty days before instituting any annexation proceeding under this chapter, a city or town shall serve notice and a certified copy of the ordinance on the attorney for the Commonwealth, or on the county attorney, if there is one, and on the chairman of the governing body of the county wherein such territory lies that it will, on a given day, petition the circuit court to grant the annexation requested in the ordinance. A copy of the notice and ordinance, or a descriptive summary of the notice and ordinance and a reference to the place within the city or town where copies of the notice and ordinance may be examined, shall be published at least once a week for four successive weeks in some newspaper published in such city or town, and when there is no newspaper published therein, then in a newspaper having general circulation in the county whose territory is affected. The proof of service or certificate of service of the notice and ordinance shall be returned after service to the clerk of the circuit court. Certification from the owner, editor or manager of the newspaper publishing the notice and ordinance or descriptive summary shall be proof of publication.

Code 1950, § 15-152.5; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1035; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3205. Additional parties.

A. In any proceedings hereunder any qualified voters or property owners in the territory proposed to be annexed or any adjoining city or town may, by petition, become parties to such proceeding as provided in subsection B hereof. Any county whose territory is affected by the proceedings, or any city, town or persons affected thereby, may appear and shall be made parties defendant to the case, and be represented by counsel.

B. The special court shall by order, fix a time within which such additional parties not served may become defendants to such proceeding, and thereafter, no such petition shall be received, except for good cause shown. A copy of the order shall be published at least once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the city or town seeking the territory and in the territory sought to be annexed.

C. The cost of such publication shall be paid by the petitioner or applicant.

Code 1950, § 15-152.6; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1036; 1979, c. 85; 1996, c. 352; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3206. Conflicting petitions for same territory; petition seeking territory lying in two or more counties; procedure.

A. When proceedings for the annexation of territory to a city or town are pending and a petition is filed seeking the annexation of the same territory or a portion thereof to another city or town the case shall be heard by the court in which the original proceedings are pending. The court shall consolidate the cases, hear them together, and make such decision as is just, taking into consideration the interests of all parties to each case.

B. When the territory sought by a city or town lies in two or more counties, all such counties shall be made parties defendant to the case. The motion or petition shall be addressed to the circuit court for the county in which the larger part of the territory is located. The provisions of this article shall apply, mutatis, mutandis, to any such proceedings.

Code 1950, § 15-152.7; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1037; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3207. Pretrial conference; matters considered.

The special court shall, prior to hearing any case under this chapter, direct the attorneys for the parties to appear before it, or in its discretion before a single judge for a conference to consider:

1. Simplification of the issues;

2. Amendment of pleadings and filing of additional pleadings;

3. Stipulations as to facts, documents, records, photographs, plans and like matters, which will dispense with formal proof thereof, including:

a. Assessed values and the ratio of assessed values to true values as determined by the State Department of Taxation in the area sought to be annexed, city or town and county, including real property, personal property, machinery and tools, merchants' capital and public service corporation assessment for each year of the five years immediately preceding;

b. Tax rate for the five years next preceding in the area sought, including any sanitary district therein, and in the city or town;

c. School population and school enrollment in the county, in the area sought, and in the city or town, as shown by the records in the office of the division superintendent of schools; and cost of education per pupil in average daily membership as shown by the last preceding report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction;

4. Estimated population of the county, the area sought and the city or town;

5. Limitation on the number of expert witnesses; each expert witness who will testify shall file a statement of his qualifications;

6. Such other matters as may aid in the disposition of the case.

The court, or judge as the case may be, shall make an appropriate order which will control the subsequent conduct of the case unless modified before or at the trial or hearing to prevent manifest injustice.

Code 1950, § 15-152.10; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1040; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587; 2010, cc. 386, 629.

§ 15.2-3208. Assistance of state agencies.

The special court may, in its discretion, direct any appropriate state agency, in addition to the Commission on Local Government, to gather and present evidence, including statistical data and exhibits, for the guidance of the court. The court shall determine the actual expense of preparing such evidence, other than that secured by the Commission on Local Government, and shall tax such expense as costs in this case; the costs shall be paid by the clerk into the general fund of the state treasury, and credited to the appropriation of the agency furnishing the evidence.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1040.1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3209. Hearing and decision.

The special court shall hear the case upon the evidence introduced as evidence is introduced in civil cases.

The court shall determine the necessity for and expediency of annexation, considering the best interests of the people of the county and the city or town, services to be rendered and needs of the people of the area proposed to be annexed, the best interests of the people in the remaining portion of the county and the best interests of the Commonwealth in promoting strong and viable units of government.

Related to the best interests of the people of the county and city or town, the court shall consider to the extent relevant:

1. The need for urban services in the area proposed for annexation, the level of services provided in the county, city or town, and the ability of such county, city or town to provide services in the area sought to be annexed, including, but not limited to: sewage treatment, water, solid waste collection and disposal, public planning, subdivision regulation and zoning, crime prevention and detection, fire prevention and protection, public recreational facilities, library facilities, curbs, gutters, sidewalks, storm drains, street lighting, snow removal, and street maintenance;

2. The current relative level of services provided by the county and the city or town;

3. The efforts by the county and the city or town to comply with applicable state policies with respect to environmental protection, public planning, education, public transportation, housing, or other state service policies promulgated by the General Assembly;

4. The community of interest which may exist between the petitioner, the territory sought to be annexed and its citizens as well as the community of interest that exists between such area and its citizens and the county. The term "community of interest" may include, but not be limited to, the consideration of natural neighborhoods, natural and man-made boundaries, and the similarity of needs of the people of the annexing area and the area sought to be annexed;

5. Any arbitrary prior refusal by the governing body of the petitioner or the county whose territory is sought to be annexed to enter into cooperative agreements providing for joint activities which would have benefited citizens of both localities; however, the court shall draw no adverse inference from joint activities undertaken and implemented pursuant to cooperative agreements of the parties. It is the purpose of this subdivision to encourage adjoining localities to enter into such cooperative agreements voluntarily, and without apprehension of prejudice;

6. The need for the city or town seeking to annex to expand its tax resources, including its real estate and personal property tax base;

7. The need for the city or town seeking to annex to obtain land for industrial or commercial use, together with the adverse effect on a county of the loss of areas suitable and developable for industrial or commercial uses;

8. The adverse effect of the loss of tax resources and public facilities on the ability of the county to provide service to the people in the remaining portion of the county; and

9. The adverse impact on agricultural operations in the area proposed for annexation.

If a majority of the court is of the opinion that annexation is not necessary or expedient, the petition for annexation shall be dismissed. If a majority of the court is satisfied of the necessity for and expediency of annexation, it shall determine the terms and conditions upon which annexation is to be had, and shall enter an order granting the petition. The court may in the order awarding annexation of any area, fix terms and conditions, including but not limited to the rights provided in Chapter 3 (§ 3.2-300 et seq.) of Title 3.2, to protect agricultural operations in the area annexed. In all cases, the court shall render a written opinion.

The order granting the petition shall set forth in detail all such terms and conditions upon which the petition is granted. Every annexation order shall be effective on January 1 following the year in which issued or, in the discretion of the court, on the second January 1 following the year in which issued; however, the court, upon joint petition of the parties, may order an annexation effective on any other date. Unless the parties otherwise agree, all taxes assessed in the territory annexed for the year at the end of which annexation becomes effective and for all prior years shall be paid to the county.

In any proceedings instituted by a city or town, no annexation shall be decreed unless the court is satisfied that the city or town has substantially complied with the conditions of the last preceding annexation by such city or town, or that compliance therewith was impossible, or that sufficient time for compliance has not elapsed.

In the event that the court enters an order granting the petition, a copy of the order shall be certified to the Secretary of the Commonwealth. The Secretary shall immediately transmit a copy of such order to the State Comptroller for his use in complying with § 4.1-117.

Code 1950, § 15-152.11; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1041; 1970, c. 751; 1978, c. 642; 1979, c. 85; 1985, c. 478; 1997, c. 587; 1999, c. 345.

§ 15.2-3210. Boundary line where territory fronts on river, bay, etc.

A. In any proceeding under the provisions of this chapter to annex territory, when such territory fronts on a river or creek, the petition may ask that the boundary line be established along the centerline of such river or creek. If any territory is awarded in such proceeding that borders on a river or creek, the decision may order that the boundary line be the centerline of the river or creek that flows beside such territory.

B. If the territory sought to be annexed fronts on a bay, lake or similar type body of water, the boundary line shall be by metes and bounds in such bay, lake or similar type body of water. If a river or creek flows into such bay, lake or similar type body of water and such river or creek fronts all or a portion of the territory sought to be annexed, the metes and bounds shall run only to the point where such river or creek enters the bay, lake or similar type body of water and thereafter the centerline of the river or creek may be the boundary line to the extent applicable.

C. For purposes of this article, if any city is bisected by a river or any branch thereof then such river or branch shall lie within the boundaries of such city to the extent that there are portions of such city on both opposite shores of such river or branch.

D. For purposes of this article, if any river in the Commonwealth is bordered on both sides by cities of a population of 100,000 or more, according to the 1970 census, to the extent that such cities' borders along the river are in opposition, including the border across any branch as provided in subsection C, the boundaries of such cities shall be the centerline of the river and such cities shall be contiguous one to the other, notwithstanding any judicial decree to the contrary entered prior to 1976. Nothing in this subsection shall apply to that body of water known as Hampton Roads, located between Norfolk, Portsmouth and Suffolk on the south and Newport News and Hampton on the north.

1976, c. 662, § 15.1-1041.1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3211. Powers of court and rules of decision; terms and conditions.

The special court, in making its decision, shall balance the equities in the case, shall enter an order setting forth what it deems fair and reasonable terms and conditions, and shall direct the annexation in conformity therewith. It shall have power to:

1. Determine the metes and bounds of the territory to be annexed, and may include a greater or smaller area than that described in the ordinance or petition; the court shall so draw the lines of annexation as to have a reasonably compact body of land and so that no land shall be taken into the city which is not adapted to city improvements or which the city will not need in the reasonably near future for development, unless necessarily embraced in such compact body of land;

2. Require the assumption by the city or town of a just proportion of any existing debt of the county or any district therein;

3. Require the payment by the city of a sum to be determined by the court, payable on the effective date of annexation, to compensate the county for the value of public improvements, including but not limited to the paving of public roads and streets, the construction of sidewalks thereon, the installation of water mains, or sewers, garbage disposal systems, fire protection facilities, bridges, public schools and equipment thereof, or any other permanent public improvements owned and maintained by the county at the time of annexation; and further to compensate the county, in not more than five annual installments, for the prospective loss of net tax revenues during the next five years, to such extent as the court in its discretion may determine, because of the annexation of taxable values to the city;

4. Require the payment by a town of a sum to be determined by the court, payable on the effective date of annexation to compensate the county for any such public improvement which becomes the property of the town by annexation; the order may provide that if, within five years after the order, such town becomes a city, it shall, from and after it becomes a city, make such payments as are provided for in subdivision 3 for a period not to exceed five years from the date of such order;

5. In lieu of providing for compensation of the county for any public improvement, provide that any such improvement shall remain the property of the county, or provide for joint use thereof by the county and the city or town under such conditions as the court may prescribe with the consent of the affected localities;

6. Prescribe what capital outlays shall be made by the city in the area after annexation; the court shall require of the city the provision of any capital improvements which in its judgment are essential to meet the needs of the annexed area and to bring the same up to a standard equal to that of the remainder of the city; and the court may, in its discretion, require as a condition of annexation the provision of capital improvements in addition to those specified in the annexation ordinance when the same are required to meet the needs of the area annexed;

7. Require the payment by the city or town to any common carrier of passengers by motor bus, who may become a party to the annexation proceeding, of a sum to be determined by the court to compensate such carrier for any loss or damage such carrier may suffer from the effects of the annexation order upon its operations. However, the city or town may elect to permit the carrier to continue to operate within the annexed area for such period of time, to be determined by the court, as will permit the carrier to liquidate and recover its investment through depreciation.

Code 1950, § 15-152.12; 1952, c. 328; 1960, c. 550; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1042; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3212. Determination of value of public improvements.

In determining the value of any public improvement for the purposes set forth in § 15.2-3211 the special court shall take into consideration the original cost thereof less depreciation, reproduction cost at the time of annexation less depreciation, as well as present value.

The city or town shall receive credit, upon a basis to be determined by the court, for any sums it may have contributed to such public improvement and may in the discretion of the court be allowed credit for any portion of the cost thereof contributed by any federal, state or other agency and not borne by the county. When such improvements consist of a school financed in part from county funds and in part from a state grant, the city or town shall receive such credit only upon that portion of the cost paid for by the state grant and only then upon the ratio that children residing in the area annexed and enrolled in such school therein bears to the total attendance of school children in the county.

The governing body of the county or any town therein, portions of which are proposed to be annexed, shall not between the entry of the decree of annexation and the date when the same becomes effective, make or contract for any permanent public improvements, to be paid for by the city or town seeking annexation, without the consent of the corporate authorities of the city or town and the supervision of the official thereof charged with making similar public improvements within the city or town.

Code 1950, § 15-152.13; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1043; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3213. Declining to accept annexation on terms and conditions imposed by court.

In any annexation proceedings instituted by a city or town, the council thereof may, subject to the approval of the special court in which the case is pending, and prior to twenty-one days after entry of an annexation order, or within twenty-one days after denial of a petition for appeal or within twenty-one days after the entry of the mandate in an appeal which has been granted, by ordinance duly adopted decline to accept annexation on the terms and conditions imposed by such court. In such case the court shall enter an order dismissing the motion to annex, and shall direct the payment of the entire costs of the proceedings by the city or town, including reimbursement of the county of costs incurred by it in defending the suit, including such reasonable attorneys' fees, engineering fees, witness fees and other costs as such court shall determine and allow.

Code 1950, § 15-152.14; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1044; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3214. Costs.

The costs in annexation proceedings shall be paid by the locality instituting the proceedings and shall be the same as in other civil cases; however, in proceedings instituted by a town, in assessing the costs, the special court shall consider the extent to which county revenues are derived from within the town, the relative financial abilities of the parties and the relative merits of the case. The costs shall include the per diem and expenses of the court reporter, if any, and, in the discretion of the court, a reasonable allowance to the court for secretarial services in connection with the preparation of the written opinion. If the proceedings are instituted otherwise than by a city, town or county, such costs shall be paid as the court directs considering the relative merits of the case.

On appeal, the appellate court shall determine by whom the appellate costs shall be paid.

Code 1950, § 15-152.15; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1045; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3215. County reimbursement for town annexation proceedings.

In any annexation proceedings in which a town participates, except those in which a town declines to accept an award by the special court, in which case § 15.2-3213 shall apply, the court may direct the county within which the town is located to reimburse the town, as hereinafter provided, for reasonable costs incurred by it in presenting its case. Such costs shall include attorneys' fees, engineering fees, witness fees, and other reasonable costs as the court shall determine and allow. The court shall hear evidence regarding the costs incurred by the town in presenting its annexation case and may order part payment by the county to the town based upon a consideration of the extent to which county revenues are derived from within the town, the relative financial ability of the town and county, and the relative merits of the case.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1045.1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3216. Proceedings not to fail for technical or procedural defects or errors.

No proceedings brought under this chapter shall fail because of a defect, imperfection or omission in the annexation ordinance or the pleadings which does not affect the substantial rights of the parties or any other technical or procedural defect, imperfection or error, but the special court shall at any time allow amendment of the ordinance or the pleadings or make any other order necessary to ensure the hearing of the case on its merits.

Code 1950, § 15-152.16; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1046; 1979, c. 85; 1980, c. 592; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3217. Court granting annexation to exist for ten years.

The special court shall not be dissolved after rendering a decision granting any motion or petition for annexation, but shall remain in existence for a period of ten years from the effective date of any annexation order entered, or from the date of any decision of the Supreme Court affirming such an order. Vacancies occurring in the court during such ten-year period shall be filled as provided in § 15.2-3004.

The court may be reconvened at any time during the ten-year period on its own motion, or on motion of the governing body of the county, or of the city or town, or on petition of not less than fifty registered voters or property owners in the area annexed; however, if the area annexed contains fewer than 100 registered voters or property owners, a majority of such registered voters or property owners may petition for the reconvening of the court.

The court shall have power and it shall be its duty, at any time during such period, to enforce the performance of the terms and conditions under which annexation was granted, and to issue appropriate process to compel such performance. The court may, in its discretion, award attorneys' fees, and court and other reasonable costs to the party or parties on whose motion the court is reconvened.

Any such action of the court shall be subject to review by the Supreme Court in the same manner as is provided with respect to the original decision of the court.

Code 1950, § 15-152.17; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1047; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3218. Continued existence of court under certain conditions.

Notwithstanding the provisions of § 15.2-3217, if a decision granting any motion or petition for annexation is subjected to collateral attack in any court, state or federal, the special court shall not be dissolved; or, if heretofore or hereafter dissolved at the time such attack is made or is pending, shall be revived. The court shall thereafter continue in existence for one year after all collateral issues have been resolved, and shall have the same powers and duties as set out in § 15.2-3217. In addition, it shall have the power to fully implement any order or decision of any court of competent jurisdiction with respect to such collateral attack.

1975, c. 32, § 15.1-1047.2; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3219. Reduced taxation on real estate in territory added to corporate limits.

The council of any city or town to which territory has been added may, by ordinance, allow a lower rate of taxation to be imposed for a period not to exceed ten years after the effective date of the annexation upon the real estate or any portion thus added to its corporate limits, than is imposed on similar property within its limits at the time such territory was added.

Such differences in the rate of taxation hereafter shall be established annually and shall bear a reasonable relationship to differences between nonrevenue-producing governmental services giving land urban character which are furnished in the area added as compared to other areas in the city or town.

1970, c. 37, § 15.1-1047.1; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 36; 1985, c. 478; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3220. Mandamus and prohibition.

Mandamus and prohibition shall lie from the Supreme Court or any circuit court to compel a city or town to carry out the provisions of this article or to forbid any violation of the same.

Code 1950, § 15-152.18; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1048; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3221. Appeals; how heard.

An appeal may be granted by the Supreme Court, or any justice thereof. The special court shall certify the facts in the case to the Supreme Court, and the evidence shall be considered as on appeal in proceedings under Chapter 2 (§ 25.1-200 et seq.) of Title 25.1. In any case, by consent of all parties of record, the motion to annex may be dismissed at any time before final judgment on appeal.

Code 1950, § 15-152.19; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1049; 1997, c. 587; 2003, c. 940.

§ 15.2-3222. What order to be entered by Supreme Court.

If the judgment of the special court is reversed on appeal, or if the judgment is modified, the Supreme Court shall enter such order as the special court should have entered, and such order shall be final. In the event that the Supreme Court enters such order, a copy of the order shall be certified to the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Code 1950, § 15-152.20; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1050; 1970, c. 751; 1978, c. 642; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3223. What order and proceedings clerk to certify, and where same shall be recorded; fees.

The clerk of the court wherein an order is entered for the annexation of territory shall make and certify copies of so much of the order and proceedings as shall show the authorization of the transfer of territory from the county or town to the city or town, as the case may be. He shall transmit one copy, along with a full description of the territory so annexed, to the county clerk of the county whose territory is affected, who shall forthwith record the same in the name of the city or town to which the territory is annexed, and one copy to the clerk of the court of such city in which deeds are recorded, who shall likewise record and index the same. The fees of the clerk for such recordation shall be the same as for recording a deed and such fees, as well as the fees of the clerk for making the copies aforesaid, shall be paid by the city or town.

Code 1950, § 15-152.21; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1051; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3224. Commissioner of revenue for the county to certify list of real estate in annexed territory to commissioner of revenue.

The commissioner of the revenue of such county shall forthwith make from the land books and certify to the commissioner of the revenue of the city a list of all real estate within the annexed territory as it appears on such land books, embracing every entry thereon in regard thereto, for which service he shall be paid by such city a reasonable fee.

Code 1950, § 15-152.22; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1052; 1994, c. 539; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3225. County or district officers resident in annexed territory to remain in office; reelection.

If a county or district officer resides in a territory annexed to a city, such officer may continue in office until the end of the term for which he was elected or appointed. The provisions of § 15.2-3823 shall prevail with respect to successive reelections of such officers. Removal of such officer, during his term of office from any such territory, to another part of the city or town to which it is annexed shall not vacate his office, but residence in any part of such city or town shall during his term of office be deemed residence in the county or district.

Code 1950, § 15-152.23; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1053; 1964, c. 202; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3226. Redistricting and elections in city or town following annexation; registration and transfer of registration of voters in annexed territory.

A. Whenever the boundaries of a city or town, which elects its council by wards or districts, have been expanded through annexation, subject to the provisions of § 24.2-304.1, the council of the city or town shall redistrict the municipality into wards or districts, change the boundaries of existing wards or districts, or increase or diminish the number of wards or districts to incorporate the additional territory.

B. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 24.2-312, there shall be an election for members of council on the first Tuesday in May following the effective date of annexation for terms to commence on July 1 following the election; however, upon the approval of the governing bodies affected and the special court, such election may be on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November following the effective date of annexation for terms to commence on January 1 following the election. If council members are chosen on an at-large basis the election shall be held for the unexpired portion of the term of each council member whose term extends beyond July 1 immediately following the effective date of annexation. If council members are chosen on a ward basis, the election shall be held for each ward affected by the annexation. However, no such election shall be held as a result of an annexation instituted under § 15.2-3202 or § 15.2-3203, unless the city or town increases its population by more than five percent due to the annexation.

C. The registration records of voters residing in the annexed areas shall be transferred, and the appropriate notice given, in accordance with § 24.2-114. Any person residing in the annexed territory who has not registered shall be entitled to register and vote in the city or town if he would have been entitled to register and vote at the next election of the county.

Code 1950, § 15-152.24; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1054; 1970, c. 172; 1974, c. 401; 1976, c. 9; 1977, c. 307; 1994, c. 293; 1997, c. 587; 2001, Sp. Sess. I, c. 3.

§ 15.2-3227. Annexation proceedings final for ten years.

Except by mutual agreement of the governing bodies affected, no city or town, having instituted proceedings to annex territory of a county, shall again seek to annex territory of such county within the ten years next succeeding the effective date of annexation in any proceeding under this article or previous acts. In the event annexation is denied, such prohibition shall begin with the date of the final order of the court denying annexation or, in the case of an appeal to the Supreme Court, with the date of the final order of the Supreme Court. However, a city or town moving to dismiss the proceedings before a hearing on its merits may file a new petition five years after the filing of the petition in the prior suit. No county shall, except with the consent of its governing body, be made defendant in any annexation proceeding brought by any city within such ten-year period.

Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions, a city shall have the right to file and maintain an annexation proceeding against any county against which it has not filed such a proceeding during the preceding thirteen years.

The provisions of this section shall not apply to any petition for annexation brought by a city or town, within such ten-year period, if the previous petition was dismissed due to a procedural defect, lack of jurisdiction, or any defense other than the merits of the case. The provisions of this section shall not apply to a city or town which institutes an annexation proceeding by filing notice with the Commission on Local Government but which subsequently fails to petition the court to grant such annexation. In that event, however, the city or town shall not again institute proceedings for annexation against the county for at least two years after the date the Commission renders its final report on the initial proceeding.

This section shall also apply to any city which was a town at the time of the filing of such petition.

Code 1950, § 15-152.25; 1952, c. 328; 1958, c. 378; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1055; 1979, c. 85; 1985, c. 478; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3228. County not to be reduced to insufficient area, population or sources of revenue.

If, as the result of an annexation, the area remaining in a county (i) would be reduced below sixty square miles, excluding property owned by the United States of America, or (ii) would otherwise be insufficient in area, population, or sources of revenue to adequately support the county government and schools, then the annexation shall not be decreed unless the whole county is annexed.

Code 1950, § 15-152.26; 1952, c. 328; 1960, c. 519; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1056; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3229. Annexation of whole town.

The provisions of this article shall apply to the annexation by a city or town of an adjoining town. No part of a town shall be annexed unless the whole town is annexed. The annexing city or town shall assume all the indebtedness of the town annexed, and shall own all the corporate property, franchises and rights thereof.

Code 1950, § 15-152.27; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1057; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3230. Article not applicable to consolidation of two cities.

The provisions of this article shall not apply to the consolidation of two cities.

Code 1950, § 15-152.28; 1952, c. 328; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1058; 1997, c. 587.

Article 2. Agreements Defining Annexation Rights.

§ 15.2-3231. Agreements between towns and counties authorized; effect; provisions.

Towns in counties, or parts of counties, not immune from annexation may voluntarily enter into agreements with such counties for the purpose of defining the town's annexation rights in the future. Upon the execution of such an agreement by both the town and the county, the town shall permanently renounce its right to become a city. Any such agreement shall provide for the regular and orderly growth of the town in conjunction with the county and for an equitable sharing of resources and liabilities. It shall also provide that the town may annex at regular intervals by the adoption of an ordinance.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1058.1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3232. Hearing before Commission on Local Government required; notice.

A. Once the town and county governing bodies have decided upon the terms of an agreement pursuant to § 15.2-3231, the proposed agreement shall be presented to the Commission on Local Government. The Commission shall conduct a public hearing at some location in the town or the county and interested parties may appear and offer evidence or comments. The hearing shall be duly advertised in some newspaper having general circulation in the county and the town once a week for two successive weeks, stating the time and place of the hearing, and summarizing the terms of the proposed agreement. The second advertisement shall appear not less than six days nor more than 21 days prior to the hearing. The Commission shall then determine whether the proposed agreement provides for the orderly and regular growth of the town and county together, for an equitable sharing of the resources and liabilities of the town and the county, and whether the agreement is in the best interest of the community at large, and shall so advise the governing bodies in a written opinion.

B. In addition to the advertising required in subsection A, written notice of the Commission on Local Government's hearing shall be given by the town at least 10 days before the hearing to the owner, owners, or their agent of each parcel of land included in the area proposed for annexation under the terms of the agreement. One notice sent by first-class mail to the last known address of such owner, owners, or their agent as shown on the current county real estate tax assessment books or current county real estate tax assessment records shall be deemed adequate compliance with this requirement, provided that the clerk of the town shall make an affidavit that such mailings have been made and file such affidavit with the Commission. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as to invalidate any subsequently adopted agreement because of the inadvertent failure by the town to give written notice to the owner, owners, their agent or the occupant of any parcel in the area proposed for annexation.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1058.2; 1997, c. 587; 2003, c. 173.

§ 15.2-3233. Adoption of agreement.

After the Commission has advised the governing bodies of the two jurisdictions of its determination, and regardless of whether its determination is favorable, such bodies may adopt the agreement. If the Commission's determination is unfavorable, however, the governing bodies shall first conduct an additional joint public hearing advertised as provided in § 15.2-3232. Adoption of the agreement by both governing bodies will operate permanently to divest the town of its right to become a city.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1058.3; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3234. Inability to agree; petition to Commission on Local Government.

In the event the governing bodies of the town and county cannot reach a voluntary agreement as to future annexation rights, the town may, by ordinance duly adopted by a majority vote of its governing body, petition the Commission on Local Government for an order establishing the rights of the town to annex territory by ordinance under specified agreed terms. A copy of such petition and ordinance shall be served on the attorney for the Commonwealth, or county attorney, if there is one, and on the chairman of the board of supervisors of the county. The county shall file its response to such petition with the Commission within sixty days after receipt of service thereof.

After the time for filing of a response by the county has elapsed, the Commission shall establish a date, time and place for a hearing, to be conducted in the county or the town, at which the parties, and any resident or property owner of either the county or the town may appear and present evidence or comment on the rights petitioned for by the town. After receiving such evidence, and making such further investigation as it deems appropriate, and based upon the criteria set forth in § 15.2-3209, the Commission shall enter an order which grants such rights to the town, either upon the terms set forth in the petition or upon some modified basis. The order shall in no event grant to the town the right to annex county territory by ordinance more frequently than once every five years.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1058.4; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3235. Appeal.

Any order of the Commission regarding future annexation rights of a town shall become final unless either the town or the county or five percent of the registered voters in either jurisdiction, within thirty days of the entry of the order, petition the circuit court to review such order. The circuit court with which the petition is filed shall notify the Supreme Court, which shall appoint a special court to hear the case as provided by Chapter 30 (§ 15.2-3000 et seq.) of this title. The special court shall review such decision and enter any order it deems appropriate. A final order of either the Commission or the court granting the town the right to future annexation through the periodic adoption of ordinances shall operate permanently to divest the town of its rights to become a city.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1058.5; 1997, c. 587.

Article 3. Contraction of Corporate Limits.

§ 15.2-3236. Council may enact ordinance.

Whenever it is deemed desirable to contract the corporate limits of any city or town, the council thereof may enact an ordinance defining accurately the boundary of the territory proposed to be abandoned. The ordinance, or a descriptive summary of the ordinance, along with a reference of the place in the city or town where the ordinance may be examined, shall be published in at least ten issues of a daily paper having general circulation in the city or town, if there is such a paper, or in two successive issues of a weekly newspaper having general circulation in such city or town, if there is such a paper. If there is no daily newspaper having general circulation therein, the ordinance shall be conspicuously posted in at least ten public places in the territory for at least ten days before the application to the circuit court for the city or town as provided for in § 15.2-3237 in addition to the publication in the weekly newspaper. A copy of the ordinance shall be served by the city or town upon the chairman of the board of supervisors of the contiguous county or counties of which the territory may become a part.

Code 1950, § 15-153; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1059; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3237. Application to be made to circuit court; appointment of special court; who may appear against.

Within thirty days of the enactment of an ordinance proposing to reduce the corporate limits of a city or town, the city or town shall apply to the circuit court for the city, or to the circuit court for the city or town, for an order confirming the ordinance. The circuit court with which the petition is filed shall notify the Supreme Court, which shall appoint a special court to hear the case as prescribed by Chapter 30 (§ 15.2-3000 et seq.) of this title. One or more residents or landowners of the territory proposed to be abandoned, or the governing body of the county or counties contiguous thereto, may appear and by petition set forth reasons why the corporate limits should not be reduced.

Code 1950, § 15-154; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1060; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3238. What court may do.

If the special court is satisfied that: (i) such contraction of the corporate limits will not leave the bonded debt of the city or town in excess of ten percent of the assessed valuation of the real estate that will be left in the city or town after the proposed contraction, which debt shall be determined as is provided in Article VII, Section 10 of the Constitution of Virginia; (ii) less than three fourths of the landowners in that territory oppose the contraction; (iii) no substantial damage to persons owning real estate in the territory proposed to be abandoned, or to the county of which it will become a part, will be caused by the contraction; and (iv) the abandonment of such territory will be in the best interest of the city or town, the court shall render an order confirming the ordinance contracting the limits of the city or town and declaring the territory abandoned to be a part of the contiguous county designated in the order. Such contraction shall thereupon become final and be taken cognizance of by all public officers, and the territory abandoned shall become a part of the county so designated. Whenever such an order is rendered, a copy of the order shall be certified to the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Code 1950, § 15-155; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1061; 1970, c. 751; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 1; 1978, c. 642; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3239. Certification of real estate list.

Upon entry of the order under § 15.2-3238, the proper city officers shall certify to the clerk of the county a list of all real estate within the territory, with every entry in regard thereto, as it appears on the city land books. The list and entries so certified shall be entered upon the county land books.

Code 1950, § 15-156; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1062; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3240. Transfer of registration records.

Upon entry of the court order under § 15.2-3238, the registration records of voters residing within the territory shall be transferred, and the appropriate notice given, in accordance with § 24.2-114.

Code 1950, § 15-157; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1063; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3241. Petition for contraction of towns located in two or more counties; appointment of special court.

Whenever it is deemed desirable to contract the corporate limits of a town located partially in one county and partially in another, a majority of voters registered to vote at the preceding November general election residing in that part of the town which is proposed to be abandoned may petition the circuit court for the county in which that part of the town is located to amend the charter of the town so as to exclude from the corporate limits of the town that part of the town which is located in such county.

Such petition shall be signed by the petitioners. It shall accurately define the boundary of the territory proposed to be abandoned and shall pray that the charter of the town may be amended so as to exclude such territory from the corporate limits of the town. The circuit court with which the petition was filed shall notify the Supreme Court which shall appoint a special court to hear the case as prescribed by Chapter 30 (§ 15.2-3000 et seq.) of this title.

Code 1950, § 15-158; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1064; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3242. Parties defendant and publication of such petition.

The county in which the part of the town proposed to be abandoned under § 15.2-3241 is located shall be named as defendant to the petition. Satisfactory proof that the petition, or a descriptive summary of the petition along with a reference to the place in the town where the petition may be examined, has been published in a newspaper having general circulation in the county or town once a week for four successive weeks and has been posted at the front door of the courthouse of the county for a like period shall be filed with the petition. A statement in the publication to the effect that a certain number of registered voters of the territory proposed to be abandoned signed the petition shall be sufficient in lieu of the names of the signers.

Code 1950, § 15-159; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1065; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3243. Hearing and order upon such petition.

The special court shall fix a day on which the petition filed pursuant to § 15.2-3241 shall be heard and shall direct the clerk of the court to cause to be summoned the chairman of the board of supervisors of the county and the mayor of the town, who without formal pleadings shall make such defense against the prayer of the petition as they may have. One or more residents or landowners of the territory proposed to be abandoned may appear and set forth reasons why the same should not be done.

If the court is satisfied that it will be in the best interest of a majority of the people of the territory proposed to be abandoned and that the general good of the community will not be materially affected, it shall by an order entered in its common-law order book, reciting the fact of the due publication of the petition, that it is in the best interest of a majority of the people of that part of the town proposed to be abandoned, and that the general good of the community will not be materially affected by amendment of the charter, order that the charter of such town be amended accordingly. Whenever such an order is entered, a copy of the order shall be certified to the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

The court in its order may make such disposition of the corporate property of the town as may seem to it just and equitable and shall also make such provision as to the payment of any debts or obligations of the town as between the county and the inhabitants of the town as to the court may seem just and equitable.

At the next session of the General Assembly following the final determination of such order, the town shall request that the General Assembly amend its charter in accordance with the court order. The effective date of the transfer of territory shall be the effective date of the court order and not the effective date of the Act of Assembly.

Code 1950, § 15-160; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1066; 1970, c. 751; 1978, c. 642; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3244. Appeal from such order.

Any one or more of the petitioners, or the defendants, or any inhabitants of the town, who may feel themselves aggrieved by an order declaring territory to be abandoned as provided by this article, or by the refusal to enter such order, may, at any time within sixty days from the date of the order, upon giving bond for costs, the amount thereof to be fixed by the court, apply to the Supreme Court for a writ of error and supersedeas according to the general law.

Code 1950, § 15-161; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1067; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3245. Validation of proceedings [Not set out].

Not set out. (1960, c. 420, § 15.1-1067.1; 1997, c. 587.)

Chapter 33. Immunity of Counties or Parts of Counties From City-Initiated Annexation and City Incorporation.

§ 15.2-3300. Purposes of chapter.

The purposes of this chapter are: (i) to provide complete immunity from annexation and incorporation of new cities for those counties or tier-cities which by reason of their population density and numbers are providing urban services and (ii) to provide a system by which portions of counties may receive immunity from annexation and incorporation of new cities in the future if qualified pursuant to this chapter.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.19:1; 1984, c. 695; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3301. Initiation of proceeding for declaration of immunity.

The governing body of any county or tier-city may, by ordinance passed by a recorded affirmative vote of a majority of the members thereof, petition the circuit court for the county for an order declaring the county or tier-city totally or partially immune, as the case may be, from city-initiated annexation and from the incorporation of new cities within its boundaries.

If the petition for total or partial county immunity is filed after the institution of a proceeding for city-initiated annexation of county or tier-city territory or for the incorporation of a new city within the county's or tier-city's boundaries under the provisions of Chapters 32 (§ 15.2-3200 et seq.) or 38 (§ 15.2-3800 et seq.) and before the time limit for pleadings established by the court pursuant to § 15.2-3204 or § 15.2-3805, the proceeding for annexation or incorporation shall be stayed until the court determines the question of total or partial county immunity. The clerk of the circuit court shall give notice of its receipt of a county's or tier-city's petition for immunity to each court in which the county or tier-city may be a party to a city-initiated annexation proceeding or to a proceeding for the incorporation of a new city.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.20; 1984, c. 695; 1985, c. 478; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3302. Criteria for total immunity; judicial determination.

A. If, after receipt of a petition for immunity, the circuit court determines that the county or tier-city has a population at the time of the filing of the petition of at least 20,000 persons and a population density of at least 300 persons per square mile, or a minimum population of at least 50,000 persons and a population density of at least 140 persons per square mile, based either on the latest United States census, on the latest population estimates of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service of the University of Virginia, or on a special census conducted under court supervision, it shall enter an order declaring the total county or tier-city immune from city-initiated annexation and incorporation of new cities.

B. If the court determines that the county or tier-city has not met the criteria for immunity as set forth in this section, it shall deny the county's or tier-city's petition.

C. In the determination of its population density, a county or tier-city may elect to have excluded from consideration the area of property within its boundaries which is owned by the federal and state governments and the area covered by bodies of water of forty acres or more in size. If a county or tier-city elects to exclude such areas from consideration, any county or tier-city residents residing in such areas must also be excluded in determining the county's or tier-city's population and population density.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.21; 1984, c. 695; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3303. Notice of determination by court; effect on other proceedings.

The clerk of the circuit court shall give notice of the court's determination of a county's or tier-city's eligibility for immunity to any court in which proceedings were stayed pending a determination of county or tier-city immunity. If county or tier-city immunity is granted by order of the court, any suits stayed pending a determination of such immunity shall be dismissed. If county or tier-city immunity is not granted by order of the court, such stays shall be dissolved.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.22; 1984, c. 695; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3304. Immunity based upon provision of urban-type services.

The governing body of any county which feels appropriate urban-type services are being provided, exclusive of those services which are provided by a city but inclusive of those services provided by cooperative agreement between the county and city, in the part of the county proposed for immunity may, by ordinance passed by a recorded affirmative vote of a majority of the members thereof, petition the circuit court for the county for an order declaring some part or parts of the county immune from city-initiated annexation and from incorporation of new cities within such part or parts. The ordinance passed by the governing body of the county shall designate the area or areas for which the county desires such partial immunity. The circuit court with which the petition is filed shall notify the Supreme Court, which shall appoint a special court to hear the case as prescribed by Chapter 30 (§ 15.2-3000 et seq.) of this title.

In considering the petition, the special court shall use the list of services set out in subdivision 1 of § 15.2-3209 as a guide in determining whether appropriate urban-type services are being provided in such part or parts of the county. The court shall also consider (i) whether the county has made efforts to comply with applicable state policies with respect to environmental protection, public planning, education, public transportation, housing, and other state service policies promulgated by the General Assembly; (ii) whether a community of interest exists between that part of the county for which immunity is sought and the remainder of the county that is greater than the community of interest that exists between that part of the county for which the immunity is sought and the adjoining municipality; and (iii) whether either party has arbitrarily refused to cooperate in the joint provision of services. Unless the population of a city adjoining a county which is seeking partial immunity exceeds 100,000 persons, the court shall not grant partial immunity to such county which would result in substantially foreclosing such a city from expanding its boundaries by annexation. The court may include a greater or smaller area than the area for which immunity is sought.

Any city or town adjoining or within the county, or the parts proposed for immunity, shall be made parties to the action. The finding of the Commission on Local Government shall be received into evidence, and the court shall receive such additional evidence as the parties may introduce. The court may limit additional evidence to those kinds of services considered by the Commission. If, after consideration of the evidence, the court finds that the county has appropriate urban-type services, comparable to the type and level of services furnished in the city from which the county seeks immunity, within such parts of the county that are proposed for immunity and that the other conditions in this section are satisfied, the court shall enter an order declaring such part or parts of the county to be immune from city-initiated annexation and incorporation of new cities.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.22:1; 1983, c. 217; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3305. Duration of immunity.

After a county or tier-city or part of a county is once granted immunity as provided by this chapter, it shall thereafter retain it.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.22:2; 1984, c. 695; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3306. Limitations to immunity.

A. Immunity granted by this chapter shall not be interpreted to prohibit any town annexations, or to prohibit annexations to a city initiated under the provisions of § 15.2-3203, except that no city may commence or be a petitioner in any such proceeding.

B. Notwithstanding other provisions of law, including § 15.2-3800, no grant of county immunity shall be interpreted to deny the right of any town, which in 1979 possessed a population in excess of 5,000 persons and was situated in a county possessing a population of 20,000 or more persons and a population density of 300 or more persons per square mile, or a population of 50,000 or more persons and a population density of 140 persons or more per square mile, based either on the United States census, on population estimates of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service of the University of Virginia, or on a special census conducted under court supervision, to obtain city status. Where a town seeks to become a city under the provisions of this section, the special court shall be limited in its review to a determination of the town's population and population density. Where the court determines that such town has a population of at least 5,000 persons and a density of 200 persons per square mile, it shall enter an order granting the town city status.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.23; 1997, c. 587; 2002, c. 199.

§ 15.2-3307. Election of city barred from annexation to be treated as immune county.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any city that is barred or that may hereafter become barred from further annexation may, by resolution passed by a majority vote of its governing body, elect to be treated the same as an immune county for purposes of state police services and for the maintenance and construction of streets and highways. Such election shall be exercised by notifying the Governor of the election at least two years prior to the beginning of the biennium in which it takes effect. If, after a minimum period of eight years following the date upon which such treatment has become effective, a city wishes to terminate such treatment as an immune county, it shall notify the Governor of its intention to return to being treated as a city for such purposes. Such return shall become effective two years after such notification to the Governor.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.24; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3308. Partial immunity proceedings final for five years; exceptions.

No county, having instituted proceedings for immunity for part or parts of the county, shall again seek immunity for substantially the same part or parts of the county within the next five years.

Such prohibition shall begin with the date of the final order of the court granting or denying immunity or, in the case of an appeal to the Supreme Court, with the date of the final order of the Supreme Court. The provisions of this section shall not apply to a petition for partial immunity if the previous petition was withdrawn, or was dismissed for any reason other than the merits of the case.

The provisions of this section further shall not apply to a county which institutes an immunity proceeding by filing notice with the Commission on Local Government but subsequently fails to petition the court to grant such immunity. In that event, however, the county shall not again institute proceedings for immunity for substantially the same part or parts of the county for at least two years after the date the Commission renders its final report on the initial proceeding.

1985, c. 478, § 15.1-977.25; 1997, c. 587.

Chapter 34. Voluntary Settlement of Annexation, Transition or Immunity Issues.

§ 15.2-3400. Voluntary settlements among local governments.

Recognizing that the localities of the Commonwealth may be able to settle the matters provided for in this subtitle through voluntary agreements and further recognizing that such a resolution can be beneficial to the orderly growth and continued viability of the localities of the Commonwealth the following provisions are made:

1. Any locality may enter voluntarily into agreement with any other locality or combination of localities whereby any rights provided for its benefit in this subtitle may be modified or waived in whole or in part, as determined by its governing body, provided that the modification or waiver does not conflict with the Constitution of Virginia.

2. The terms of the agreement may include fiscal arrangements, land use arrangements, zoning arrangements, subdivision arrangements and arrangements for infrastructure, revenue and economic growth sharing, provisions for the acceptance on each other's behalf of proffered conditions under § 15.2-2298 or 15.2-2303, dedication of all or any portion of tax revenues to a revenue and economic growth sharing account, boundary line adjustments, acquisition of real property and buildings and the joint exercise or delegation of powers as well as the modification or waiver of specific annexation, transition or immunity rights as determined by the local governing body including opposition to petitions filed pursuant to § 15.2-3203, and such other provisions as the parties deem in their best interest. The terms of the agreement may also provide for subsequent court review, instituted pursuant to provisions contained in the agreement, by a special court convened under Chapter 30 (§ 15.2-3000 et seq.) of this title.

3. If a voluntary agreement is reached pursuant to this chapter, the governing bodies shall present to the Commission the proposed settlement. The Commission shall conduct a hearing pursuant to subsection A of § 15.2-2907. The Commission shall report, in writing, its findings and recommendations as to whether the proposed settlement is in the best interest of the Commonwealth. Such report shall not be binding upon any court but shall be advisory in nature only.

4. Upon receipt of the Commission report, the localities, by ordinance passed by a recorded affirmative vote of a majority of the members of each governing body thereof, may adopt either the original or a modified agreement acceptable to all parties. Before adopting such ordinance each local governing body shall advertise its intention to approve such agreement, or modified agreement, at least once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper having a general circulation in its jurisdiction and such advertisements shall contain a descriptive summary of the agreement or modified agreement. Each locality shall hold at least one public hearing on the agreement or modified agreement prior to the adoption of the ordinance. The publication shall include a statement that a copy of the agreement, or modified agreement, is on file in the office of the clerk of the circuit court for each of the affected jurisdictions.

5. The governing bodies shall petition a circuit court having jurisdiction in one or more of the localities for an order affirming the proposed settlement. The circuit court with which the petition is filed shall notify the Supreme Court, which shall appoint a special court to hear the case as prescribed by Chapter 30 (§ 15.2-3000 et seq.) of this title. The special court shall be limited in its decision to either affirming or denying the voluntary agreement and shall have no authority, without the express approval of each local governing body, to amend or change the terms or conditions of the agreement, but shall have the authority to validate the agreement and give it full force and effect. The court shall affirm the agreement unless the court finds either that the agreement is contrary to the best interests of the Commonwealth or that it is not in the best interests of each of the parties thereto. In determining whether such agreement should be affirmed, the court shall consider, among other things, whether the interest of the Commonwealth in promoting orderly growth and the continued viability of localities has been met. If the agreement is validated and provides for annexation by a city or town, the agreement shall take effect on the first day of the month succeeding validation of the agreement unless the agreement stipulates that the annexation shall be effective on some other date.

6. The agreement shall not become binding on the localities until affirmed by the special court under this section. Once approved by the special court, the agreement shall also bind future local governing bodies of the localities.

7. The applicable provisions of this chapter shall be deemed to have been met with regard to any voluntary fiscal agreement or voluntary agreement in settlement of an annexation, transition or immunity petition or voluntary settlement agreement entered into pursuant to this chapter (i) which was entered into before July 1, 1990, (ii) which had been reviewed or was in the process of review by the Commission on Local Government on or before July 1, 1990, (iii) which had been or was the subject of review by a special court convened under Chapter 30 of this title on or before July 1, 1990, or (iv) which had been or was approved by a special court convened under Chapter 30 of this title on or before July 1, 1990.

8. The provisions of § 15.2-3226 shall apply when a voluntary agreement made under this section includes the annexation of territory by a city or town. No election for members of council shall be held as a result of such annexation unless the city or town increases its population by more than five percent due to the annexation.

1983, c. 523, § 15.1-1167.1; 1985, c. 478; 1986, c. 333; 1988, c. 881; 1990, cc. 62, 326; 1994, c. 293; 1996, cc. 644, 650; 1997, c. 587; 2003, cc. 197, 444, 583; 2006, c. 212.

§ 15.2-3401. Referendum on contracting of debt by counties in voluntary settlement agreements.

Before a county, under the terms of a voluntary agreement pursuant to this chapter, contracts a debt pursuant to Article VII, Section 10 (b) of the Constitution of Virginia, the board of supervisors shall, in conformity with Article VII, Section 10 (b) of the Constitution of Virginia, petition the circuit court for the county for an order calling for a special election in the county on the question of contracting such debt.

The question on the ballot shall be as follows, provided that the circuit court in its order calling for the election may substitute alternative language necessary to specify the type of agreement or the particular debt which the county proposes to contract under an agreement:

"Shall (name of county) be authorized to contract a debt by entering into a contract for the payment (describe the debt or payment) to (name of locality to whom payments are to be made) as a part of the proposed voluntary annexation and immunity settlement agreement between the county and (name of other locality)?

[ ] Yes

[ ] No"

The clerk of the county shall cause a notice of the referendum to be published in a newspaper having general circulation in the county once a week for three consecutive weeks, the first such notice of which must be published not more than sixty days prior to the election and shall post a copy of the notice at the door of the county courthouse.

The election shall be held and the results thereof ascertained and certified in accordance with Article 5 (§ 24.2-681 et seq.) of Chapter 6 of Title 24.2. If a majority of the voters of the county voting in such election approve the contracting of such debt, the county may proceed to adopt, by ordinance, the agreement.

1985, c. 66, § 15.1-1167.2; 1997, c. 587.

Chapter 35. Consolidation of Localities.

Article 1. Consolidation of Like Units of Local Government.

§ 15.2-3500. Application of article.

The provisions of this article shall be applicable only to the consolidation of like units of local government into a consolidated like unit of local government. As used in this article "like unit" means the consolidation of (i) two or more counties into a consolidated county, (ii) two or more cities into a consolidated city or (iii) two or more towns into a consolidated town.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3501. Authority to consolidate counties, cities or towns.

Any two or more adjoining like units of local government are hereby authorized to consolidate into a single consolidated like unit of local government.

Code 1950, § 15-162; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1071; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3502. Agreement for consolidation.

The governing bodies of any two or more adjoining localities desiring to consolidate into a consolidated locality in accordance with this article may enter into an agreement for the consolidation, setting forth in such consolidation agreement:

1. The names of the localities which are proposed to be consolidated;

2. The name of the proposed consolidated locality, which name shall be such as to distinguish it from the name of any other like unit of government in Virginia;

3. The property, real and personal, belonging to each locality and the fair value thereof in current money of the United States;

4. The indebtedness, bonded and otherwise, of each locality;

5. The proposed name and location of the county seat of the consolidated county or the address of the administrative offices of the city or town;

6. If the counties have different forms of county organization and government, the proposed form of county organization and government of the consolidated county, or if the cities or towns are to adopt the charter of one of the cities or towns, the name of the city or town whose charter is adopted; and

7. The other terms of the agreement.

The governing body of each of the localities may appoint an advisory committee composed of three persons to assist in the preparation of such agreement and may pay the members of such advisory committee reasonable compensation, approved by the judge of the circuit court for the locality.

In counties, no consolidation agreement shall become effective unless approved by a referendum. In cities and towns, the consolidation agreement may include a provision requiring approval by referendum.

The original of the consolidation agreement and, if appropriate, a petition on behalf of the several governing bodies asking for a referendum on the question of consolidation shall be filed with the judge or one of the judges of the circuit courts for the localities; there shall be filed with each of the other judges a copy of the consolidation agreement and of the petition.

Code 1950, § 15-163; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1072; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3503. Petition requesting agreement.

The voters of any locality whose governing body has not taken the initiative under § 15.2-3502 may require the governing body to do so by filing a petition with the governing body. The petition shall be signed by not less than ten percent of the voters of the locality registered as of January 1 of the year in which the petition is filed, which in no case shall be less than 100 voters, and shall ask the governing body to effect, in accordance with § 15.2-3502, a consolidation agreement with the locality named in the petition and to petition the judge for a referendum on the question. A copy of the petition of the voters shall also be filed with the judge of the circuit court for the locality. If the governing body within six months is unable or for any reason fails to perfect such consolidation agreement, then the judge of the circuit court for the locality shall appoint a committee of five representative citizens of the locality to act for and in lieu of the governing body in perfecting the consolidation agreement and in petitioning for a referendum.

Code 1950, § 15-164; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1073; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3504. Publication of agreement.

The governing body of each of the consolidating localities shall cause a copy of the consolidation agreement, or a descriptive summary of the agreement and a reference to the place within the locality where a copy of the agreement may be examined, to be published in each locality with which it is proposed to consolidate at least once a week for four successive weeks in a newspaper having a general circulation therein. A copy of the agreement shall be available for public inspection at the circuit court clerk's office of each of the consolidating localities.

Code 1950, § 15-165; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1074; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3505. Order for election.

When the publication of the consolidation agreement in each of the localities is completed, the judge or judges of the circuit courts for the counties and, if appropriate, for the cities or towns shall by order entered of record, in accordance with Article 5 (§ 24.2-681 et seq.) of Chapter 6 of Title 24.2, require the regular election officers of such localities on the day fixed in the order, which day shall be the same in each of the localities proposing to consolidate, to open a poll and take the sense of the qualified voters therein on the question submitted as hereinafter provided. Certification from the owner, editor or manager of each newspaper publishing the agreement shall be proof of publication.

Code 1950, § 15-166; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1075; 1975, c. 517; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3506. Conduct of election.

The election authorized by § 15.2-3505 shall be conducted in accordance with general law. The ballots used shall be printed and shall contain the following:

"Shall ____________________ (here insert names of counties, cities or towns proposing
to consolidate) consolidate pursuant to the consolidation agreement?

[ ] Yes

[ ] No."

Code 1950, § 15-167; 1950, p. 395; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1076; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3507. Result of election.

The ballots shall be counted, returns made and canvassed as in other elections and the results certified by the electoral boards to the judge or judges of the circuit courts for the localities. If it appears by the report of the electoral boards that a majority of the voters of each locality proposing to consolidate voting on the question submitted are in favor of the consolidation, the judge or judges shall enter of record such fact and shall notify the Secretary of the Commonwealth of such fact.

Code 1950, § 15-168; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1077; 1970, c. 751; 1978, c. 642; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3508. Election or appointment of county officers.

At the next regular November election held at least sixty days after the election at which the consolidation is approved by the voters, all county officers provided for by general law shall be elected for the consolidated county. Their terms shall begin on January 1 next succeeding their election, at which time they shall replace all elective county officers of the consolidated counties whose terms shall terminate on such day. The terms of the new officers shall expire on January 1 next succeeding the regular election of county officers in the Commonwealth.

All appointive county officers shall be appointed by the person, board or authority upon whom the power to appoint such officers in other counties is conferred. The terms of such officers shall commence on January 1 next succeeding the first election of officers for the consolidated county and shall continue, unless otherwise removed, until their successors have been appointed and qualified.

The successors of all such officers whose first election or appointment is herein provided for shall thereafter be elected or appointed at the time, in the manner and for the terms provided by general law.

Code 1950, § 15-169; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1078; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3509. Election or appointment of city or town officers.

At the next regular May election held at least sixty days after the adoption of the consolidation ordinance by the governing bodies or, if applicable, the election at which the consolidation is approved by the voters, such officers as are provided for by general or special law shall be elected for the consolidated city or town. Their terms shall begin on July 1 next succeeding their election, at which time they shall replace all elective city or town officers of the consolidated cities or towns whose terms shall terminate on such day. The terms of the new officers shall expire on January 1 for constitutional officers next succeeding the regular election of city constitutional officers in the Commonwealth and July 1 next succeeding the regular election of all other city and town officers.

All appointive city and town officers shall be appointed by the person, board or authority upon whom the power to appoint such officers in other cities and towns is conferred. The terms of such officers shall commence on January 1 next succeeding the first election of officers for the consolidated city or town and shall continue, unless otherwise removed, until their successors have been appointed and qualified.

The successors of all such officers whose first election or appointment is herein provided for shall thereafter be elected or appointed at the time, in the manner and for the terms provided by general or special law.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3510. General effect of consolidation.

Upon the first day of office following the first election of county, city or town officers for the consolidated localities, the several localities shall be thereafter for all purposes treated and considered as one county, city or town, as the case may be, under the name and upon the terms and conditions set forth in the consolidation agreement and in accordance with the provisions of this article. All the rights, privileges and franchises of each of the several localities and all property, real and personal, and all debts due on whatever account, as well as other things in action, belonging to each of such localities shall be deemed as transferred to and vested in the consolidated locality without further act or deed. All property, all rights-of-way and all other interests shall be as effectually the property of the consolidated locality as they were of the several localities prior to their consolidation. The title to real estate, either by deed or otherwise, under the laws of this Commonwealth vested in any of the localities shall not be deemed to revert or be in any way impaired by reason of the consolidation. The rights of creditors and all liens upon the property of any of the localities shall be preserved unimpaired; the respective localities shall be deemed to continue in existence to preserve such rights and liens, and all debts, liabilities and duties of any of the localities shall thenceforth attach to the consolidated locality and be enforced against it to the same extent as if such debts, liabilities and duties had been incurred or contracted by it.

Such consolidated locality shall in all respects, except as otherwise provided herein, be subject to all the obligations and liabilities imposed and shall possess all the rights, powers, and privileges vested by law in other localities.

Code 1950, § 15-170; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1079; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3511. Liabilities.

All valid and lawful charges and liabilities existing against a consolidated locality, or which may thereafter arise or accrue against such locality, which, but for such consolidation would be valid, and lawful charges or liabilities against them, or either of them, shall be deemed and taken to be like charges against or liabilities of the consolidated locality and shall accordingly be defrayed and answered to by it to the same extent, and no further than, the several localities would have been bound if no consolidation had taken place. All bonds, contracts and obligations of the localities which exist as legal obligations shall be deemed like obligations of the consolidated locality, and all such obligations as are authorized or required to be issued or entered into shall be issued or entered into by and in the name of such consolidated jurisdictions.

Code 1950, § 15-213; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1123; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3512. Suits and prosecutions.

From and after the date when consolidation becomes effective, all indictments and prosecutions for crimes committed or ordinances violated and all suits or causes of action arising within the territory of the consolidated locality may be instituted in the county, city or town with the same force and effect as if consolidation had always been effective.

Suits may be brought and maintained against a consolidated locality in any of the courts of this Commonwealth in the same manner as against any other locality.

Any action or proceeding pending by or against any of the consolidating localities may be prosecuted to judgment as if such consolidation had not taken place, or the consolidated locality may be substituted in its place.

Code 1950, §§ 15-171, 15-216; 1962, c. 623, §§ 15.1-1080, 15.1-1126; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3513. Magisterial, school and election districts, etc.

The magisterial districts in a county, and the school districts, election districts and voting places in the consolidated county, city or town shall continue as in the several counties, cities or towns prior to consolidation, unless and until changed in accordance with law.

Code 1950, § 15-172; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1081; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3514. Courts and judicial circuits.

Until changed by law, the same judicial circuits shall continue, though this may result in the consolidated county or city being a part of two or more circuits. All such courts shall, however, be held at the place designated as the seat of the consolidated county or administrative offices of the city, and each such court shall continue to have and exercise the same jurisdiction as it had and exercised before such consolidation. If two or more judges have jurisdiction in any consolidated county or city, they or a majority of them shall exercise the power to appoint officers and fill vacancies as is vested in judges of circuit courts of other counties and cities.

Code 1950, § 15-173; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1082; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3515. Congressional and assembly districts.

For the purpose of representation in Congress and in the General Assembly, the existing congressional, senatorial and house districts shall continue until changed in accordance with law.

Code 1950, § 15-174; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1083; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3516. Registration of voters.

No new registration shall be necessary in case of consolidation, but all voter registrations of the localities shall be transferred to the proper registration books of the consolidated locality, and new registrations shall be made as provided by law just as if no consolidation had taken place.

Code 1950, § 15-187; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1096; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3517. Existing ordinances.

The ordinances in force in the localities at the time of consolidation, insofar as they are not in conflict with the consolidation agreement, shall be continued in force and effect within the limits of the consolidated localities, subject to repeal or amendment by the governing bodies of the consolidated localities; however, in case of a conflict between the ordinances of localities when the charter of one of them has been retained, the ordinances of the one whose charter has been surrendered shall to the extent of such conflict be void and of no effect. Localities may also provide in the consolidation agreement for an alternative procedure for resolving conflicts between ordinances.

Code 1950, § 15-188; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1097; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3518. Determination of rights.

If any right, title, interest, claim or case arises out of any consolidation or by reason thereof which is not determinable by reference to the provisions of this article or by the Constitution and other laws of the Commonwealth, the governing body of the consolidated locality may by ordinance provide therefor in a manner conforming to law.

Code 1950, § 15-189; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1098; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3519. Repeal of certain charters.

At the session of the General Assembly that follows the elections provided for in either § 15.2-3508 or § 15.2-3509, the governing body of the resulting consolidated county, city or town shall request its delegate or senator in the General Assembly to introduce a bill to repeal all obsolete charters of the local governments that have been consolidated.

1997, c. 587.

Article 2. Consolidation of Certain Counties, Cities and Towns.

§ 15.2-3520. Counties, cities and towns specified; alternative consolidations.

By complying with the requirements specified in this article, any one or more counties or cities having a common boundary, or any county and all incorporated towns located entirely therein, may consolidate into a single county or city; however, no consolidation instituted under the provisions of this article shall result in the creation of consolidated cities, unless such proposed consolidation is reviewed by the Commission on Local Government and a special court established pursuant to § 15.2-3522 and they meet the criteria set out in subsection A of § 15.2-3526.

The term "incorporated towns" as used in this article means only those incorporated towns which have held municipal elections in the ten years preceding the date of the filing of a petition for a referendum pursuant to § 15.2-3529.

If two or more like units of local government propose to consolidate into a consolidated like unit of local government, they shall do so in accordance with the provisions of Article 1 of this chapter.

This article applies to the (i) consolidation of unlike units of local governments such as a county and a city joining to form either a county or city; (ii) consolidation of like units of local governments into an unlike unit of local government such as a county and a county joining to form a city; or (iii) other combinations provided for herein.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1130.1; 1983, c. 4; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3521. Proposed consolidated city; notice of motion; service and publication.

At least thirty days before instituting a proceeding under the provisions of this article for the creation of a consolidated city, the counties and cities proposing to consolidate shall serve notice on the attorney for the Commonwealth or the attorney for the city or county, and on the chairman of the governing body or mayor of each county and city having a common boundary that they will, on a given day, petition the circuit court for a determination of whether the proposed consolidated city is eligible for city status. The notice served on each official shall include a certified copy of the consolidation agreement. A copy of the notice and the consolidation agreement, or a descriptive summary of the notice and agreement and a reference to the place within the city or town where copies of the notice and agreement may be examined, shall be published at least once a week for four successive weeks in some newspaper or newspapers having general circulation in the localities which are parties to the agreement. The notice and consolidation agreement shall be returned after service to the clerk of the circuit court. Certification of the owner, editor or manager of the newspaper publishing the notice and agreement shall be proof of publication.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1130.2; 1986, c. 312; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3522. Petition; appointment of special court.

When a consolidation agreement proposing the creation of a consolidated city in accordance with § 15.2-3529 has been adopted, the original of the consolidation agreement, a petition on behalf of the several governing bodies, signed by the chairman, the mayor and the clerk of each such body, and certificates of publication as provided for in § 15.2-3521 shall be presented to a circuit court having jurisdiction over one or more of the localities. Upon receipt of the consolidation agreement, the petition, and the certificates of publication, the chief judge of the circuit court shall request the Supreme Court to appoint pursuant to Chapter 30 (§ 15.2-3000 et seq.) of this title the special court which shall determine whether the proposed consolidation is eligible for city status.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1130.3; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3523. Parties.

In any proceedings instituted under the provisions of this article for the creation of a consolidated city, any voter, person having an interest or property owner of any locality which is a party to the consolidation agreement may by petition become party to the proceedings. Any locality having a common boundary, or other person affected by the proceedings may appear and shall be made party to the case.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1130.4; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3524. Time limit for intervenors.

The court shall by order fix a time within which a voter, property owner, other person or political subdivision not served may become a party to proceedings instituted under this article for the creation of a consolidated city and thereafter no such petition shall be received, except for good cause shown. A copy of the order shall be published at least once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper or newspapers of general circulation in the localities proposing to consolidate and in the counties and cities contiguous thereto.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1130.5; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3525. Pretrial conference; matters considered.

The special court shall, prior to hearing any case under this article for the establishment of a consolidated city, direct the attorneys for the parties to appear before it, or, in its discretion, before a single judge for a conference to consider:

1. Simplification of the issues;

2. Amendment of pleadings and filing of additional pleadings;

3. Stipulations as to facts, documents, records, photographs, plans and like matters, which will dispense with formal proof thereof, including:

a. The assessed values and the ratio of assessed values to true values as determined by the State Department of Taxation in the counties, cities and towns proposing to consolidate, including real property, personal property, machinery and tools, merchants' capital and public service corporation assessments for each year of the five years immediately preceding;

b. The school population and school enrollment in the area proposing to consolidate, as shown by the records in the office of the division superintendent of schools; and the cost of education per pupil in average daily membership as shown by the last preceding report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction; and

c. The population and the density of population of the area proposing to consolidate;

4. The method of taking any population census requested by the petitioner;

5. Limitation on the number of expert witnesses, as well as requiring each expert witness who will testify to file a statement of his qualifications;

6. Such other matters as may aid in the disposition of the case.

The court, or the judge as the case may be, shall make an appropriate order which will control the subsequent conduct of the case unless modified before or at the trial or hearing to prevent manifest injustice.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1130.7; 1997, c. 587; 2010, cc. 386, 629.

§ 15.2-3526. Hearing and decision by court.

A. The court shall order an election to be held as provided in § 15.2-3538 if, after hearing the evidence, it finds that:

1. The proposed consolidation has a minimum population of 20,000 persons and a density of at least 300 persons per square mile, or a minimum population of 50,000 persons and a population density of at least 140 persons per square mile, based on the latest United States census, or on the latest population estimates of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service of the University of Virginia, or on a special census conducted under court supervision; however, where the proposed consolidation includes an existing city, the population and density requirements set forth in this subdivision shall not apply;

2. The proposed consolidation has the fiscal capacity to function as an independent city and is able to provide appropriate services; and

3. After a consideration of the best interests of the parties, the interest of the Commonwealth in the compliance with and the promotion of applicable state policies with respect to environmental protection, public planning, education, public transportation, housing and other state service policies declared by the General Assembly, and the interest of the Commonwealth in promoting strong and viable units of government in the area, the proposed consolidation is eligible for city status.

B. The court shall be limited in its decision to granting or denying eligibility for city status and shall have no authority to impose terms or conditions with respect to a proposed consolidation.

C. If a majority of the court is of the opinion that the criteria set out in subsection A herein have not been met, then eligibility for city status shall be denied.

D. The court shall render a written opinion in every case brought under the provisions of this article.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1130.8; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3527. Assistance of state agencies.

The court may, in its discretion, direct any appropriate state agency, in addition to the Commission on Local Government, to gather and present evidence, including statistical data and exhibits, for the court, to be subject to the usual rules of evidence. The court shall determine the actual expense of preparing such evidence, and shall tax such expense as costs in the case; the costs shall be paid by the clerk into the general fund of the state treasury and credited to the agency furnishing the evidence.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1130.9; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3528. Appeals.

Appeals may be granted by the Supreme Court of Virginia as provided in §§ 15.2-3221 and 15.2-3222, which shall apply mutatis mutandis.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1130.10; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3529. Consolidation agreement generally; advisory committee; filing agreement and referendum petition with court.

The board of supervisors or council of the locality desiring to consolidate into a county or city, or any county and all incorporated towns located entirely therein desiring to consolidate into a county or city may enter into a joint agreement for such consolidation, setting forth in such consolidation agreement the following:

1. The names of the localities proposing to consolidate;

2. The name of the county or counties or city into which the localities propose to consolidate; or that the localities agree to conduct a subsequent referendum to be voted on by the people of the consolidated county or city prior to the effective date of the consolidation to select the name for the consolidated county or city. The name chosen shall not be one that has been restricted or prohibited by law;

3. The property, real or personal, belonging to each locality, and the fair value thereof in current money of the United States;

4. The indebtedness, bonded and otherwise, of each locality;

5. The day upon which the consolidation agreement shall become effective, provided that, if an agreement proposes the creation of a consolidated city, the effective date shall be stated in the charter enacted by the General Assembly; and

6. Any other provisions which may be properly embodied in the agreement.

Each governing body may appoint an advisory committee composed of three persons to assist it in the preparation of an agreement, and may pay the members of the advisory committee reasonable compensation, which shall be approved by the circuit court for the locality.

The original of the consolidation agreement, together with a petition on behalf of the several governing bodies, signed by the chairman and the mayor and the clerk of each of the bodies, asking that a referendum on the question of consolidation of the localities, shall be filed with a judge of a circuit court having jurisdiction over any of the localities proposing to consolidate; however, when the consolidation agreement proposes the creation of a consolidated city that includes at least one county, the petition shall ask for proceedings pursuant to §§ 15.2-3521 through 15.2-3528 prior to such referendum. A copy of the agreement shall be filed with the judge of each circuit court having jurisdiction in the localities that are parties to the agreement.

Code 1950, § 15-221; 1956, c. 554; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1131; 1968, c. 694; 1975, c. 517; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3530. Continuation of services of Department of Transportation after consolidation.

When a county and city consolidate into a city, or a combination of counties and a city or cities consolidate into a city, or when any county and all of the incorporated towns located entirely therein are consolidated into a city or cities, the Commissioner of Highways shall continue the full services of the Department of Transportation in those areas which were formerly a county or counties in the same manner and to the same extent such services were rendered prior to such consolidation. Funds for the maintenance, construction and reconstruction of streets within the areas formerly a county or counties shall continue to be allocated as if such areas were still in the county or counties, and such city or cities shall not receive funds for maintenance, construction or reconstruction of streets in those areas. In those areas where the Department of Transportation provides the above services, the governing body of such city or cities, as the case may be, shall have control over the streets and highways to the same extent as was formerly vested in the governing body of the county or counties.

Notwithstanding the above, at any time subsequent to the consolidation, when in the opinion of the Commissioner, the consolidated area which was formerly a county or counties or any portion thereof becomes substantially urbanized, the Commissioner may by agreement with the governing body of the city, transfer the streets in any area deemed urbanized to the city for construction, reconstruction and maintenance, and thereafter funds for such streets shall be allocated as otherwise provided by law for city streets.

1968, c. 694, § 15.1-1131.1; 1970, cc. 180, 223; 1979, c. 85; 1991, c. 189; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3531. Voters' petition requesting consolidation agreement and referendum.

The voters of any locality whose governing body has not taken the initiative under § 15.2-3529, may require it to do so by filing a petition with the governing body. The petition shall be signed by not less than fifteen percent of the voters of the locality registered to vote as of January 1 of the year in which the petition is filed, which number in no case shall be less than 100, and shall ask the governing body in accordance with § 15.2-3529 to effect a consolidation agreement with the localities named in the petition and to petition the judge for a referendum on the question. All of the signatures on the petition must have been made within twelve months. A copy of the petition of the voters shall also be filed with the judge of each circuit court having jurisdiction in the county or town or the judge of the circuit court in the city. If the governing body within one year is unable, or for any reason fails, to perfect such consolidation agreement, then the judge of the circuit court having jurisdiction in the county or town or the judge of the circuit court of the city shall appoint a committee of five representative citizens of the locality to act for and in lieu of the governing body in perfecting the consolidation agreement and in petitioning for a referendum.

When a consolidation agreement adopted under the provisions of this section proposes the creation of a consolidated city which will include at least one existing county, the petition shall ask for proceedings pursuant to §§ 15.2-3521 through 15.2-3528 prior to such referendum.

Code 1950, § 15-222; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1132; 1968, c. 634; 1975, c. 517; 1979, c. 85; 1981, c. 78; 1988, c. 728; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3532. Required provisions of consolidation agreement.

In addition to the provisions required by § 15.2-3529, any consolidation agreement adopted pursuant to this article shall contain the following provisions:

1. The disposition of all property, real or personal, of any locality affected by the proposed consolidation, including any and all debts due to any such locality;

2. Reimbursement for, or assumption of, a just proportion of any existing debt of any locality proposed to be consolidated by the consolidated county or city;

3. Towns located within any county which proposes to consolidate with another county or city, or combination thereof, into a consolidated city, and not a party to the consolidation agreement, shall continue as townships within the proposed consolidated city;

4. Towns located within any county which proposes to consolidate with another county or city, or combination thereof, into a consolidated county, and not a party to the consolidation agreement, shall continue as towns within the proposed consolidated county.

Code 1950, § 15-222.1; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1133; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3533. Transfer of property and indebtedness.

If the proposed consolidation is approved by a majority vote of the voters of each locality proposed to be consolidated, voting in the election hereinafter provided for, then the title to all property shall be vested in, and the indebtedness become a debt of, the respective localities according to the agreement, without any further act or deed.

Code 1950, § 15-222.2; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1134; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3534. Optional provisions of consolidation agreement.

Any such consolidation agreement may contain any of the following provisions:

1. In any territory that will be a part of the consolidated city there shall be no increase in assessments, except for permanent improvements made after the consolidation, for a period not exceeding five years.

2. The rate of tax on real property in any such territory shall be lower than in other territory of the consolidated unit for a period of five years, provided that any difference between such rates of taxation shall bear a reasonable relationship to differences in nonrevenue-producing governmental services giving land urban character which are furnished in such territories.

3. In any area specified in such agreement, for the purpose of repaying existing indebtedness chargeable to such area prior to consolidation, there may be levied a special tax on real property for a period not exceeding twenty years, which may be different from and in addition to the general tax rate throughout the entire consolidated county or counties, city or cities, or tier-city, as the case may be.

4. Geographical subdivisions of the consolidated city, to be known as boroughs, may be established, which may be the same as the existing (i) cities, (ii) counties, or (iii) portions of such counties, which are included in the consolidated city, and may be the same as the temporary special debt districts referred to in subdivision 3 of this section; the names of such boroughs shall be set forth in the consolidation agreement.

5. Geographical subdivisions of the consolidated county or counties, to be known as shires, may be established, which shall be the same as and bear the names of the existing counties, towns, communities, or portions of counties, which are included in the consolidated county or counties, and may be the same as the temporary special debt districts referred to in subdivision 3 of this section.

6. In the event of consolidation of such counties and cities into a single county, there may be established geographical subdivisions of such county, to be known as shires, which shall be the same as and bear the names of the existing cities and counties.

7. In the event of consolidation of such counties and cities into a single county incorporating a tier-city therein, there shall be established geographical and political subdivisions of such county, to be known as "tier-cities"; such tier-cities shall apply for and may receive a charter from the General Assembly in the same manner as may any municipality and when issued shall thereafter qualify in general law, mutatis mutandis, as a town with respect to its rights, powers and obligations, and shall have such other rights, powers and obligations as may be given it by law, general or special.

8. In the event of the establishment of such shires or boroughs, it shall be the duty of the Commissioner of Highways and the Director of the Department of Historic Resources to have suitable monuments or markers erected indicating the limits of such geographical subdivisions and setting forth the history of each.

9. a. In the event of establishment of a consolidated city, there shall be a new election of officers therefor whose election and qualification shall terminate the terms of office of their predecessors; provision may be made for the exclusion from such new election of such elective officers as is deemed desirable.

b. In the event of the establishment of a consolidated city, the constitutional officers of the consolidating jurisdictions may continue in office at not less than their salaries in effect at the effective date of consolidation; the selection of each constitutional officer for the consolidated city shall be made by agreement between those persons holding such respective offices, and the other or others, as the case may be, shall become assistants or chief deputies, upon filing of a certification of such agreement in a circuit court and approval by the court; in the event no agreement is reached or no certification is filed on or before a date stated in the consolidation agreement, the circuit court shall designate one officer as principal and the other or others, as the case may be, as assistants or chief deputies; and in the event of a vacancy in the office of assistant or chief deputy thereby created during such term, the position shall be abolished. Each such officer shall continue in office, whether as the principal officer or as chief deputy or assistant, until January 1 following the next regularly scheduled election pursuant to § 24.2-217, whether or not the term to which such officer was elected may have expired prior to that date. When the effective date of the consolidation plan is the same as the end of the term of one or more existing constitutional officers for the consolidating jurisdictions, an election shall be held to elect such constitutional officers for the consolidating jurisdictions for a new term to begin on the effective date of consolidation. Such newly elected officers may or may not become the principal constitutional officers of the consolidated city under this provision.

c. In the event of the establishment of a consolidated city, the persons holding office as the superintendents of the school divisions within the consolidating jurisdictions may continue in office at no less than their salaries in effect at the effective date of consolidation, for the terms to which they were appointed; the consolidated city school board shall designate one of such persons as division superintendent and the other as associate superintendent; in the event no designation is made on or before a date stated in the consolidation agreement, the designation shall be made by the circuit court for the consolidated city; and in the event of a vacancy in the position of superintendent or associate superintendent during the term to which appointed, the remaining incumbent shall be the superintendent and the position of associate superintendent shall be abolished.

10. In the event of the establishment of a consolidated city, the tax rate on all property of the same class within the city shall be uniform. However, the council shall have power to levy a higher tax in such areas of the city which desire additional or more complete services of government than are desired in the city as a whole, and, in such case, the proceeds therefrom shall be so segregated as to enable the same to be expended in the areas in which raised; such higher tax rate shall not be levied for school, police or general government services but only for those services which prior to consolidation were not offered in the whole of all of the consolidated localities.

11. The agreement, when proposing the creation of a consolidated city, may incorporate in a proposed charter, subject to the subsequent approval of the General Assembly, any provisions of any charter heretofore granted by the General Assembly for any of the localities proposing to consolidate. It is the intention of this subsection to permit the drafting by the governing bodies, or the committees acting for and in lieu of the governing bodies under § 15.2-3531, of a charter to be adopted as a part of the consolidation agreement for the proposed consolidated city. In such charter the name of the consolidated city, if agreed upon, shall be inserted in lieu of the name of the city which may be specified in the original charters from which the provisions are taken, or if the name of the consolidated city is left to subsequent referendum, then the phrase "the consolidated city" shall be substituted. Any such charter shall be published as provided in § 15.2-3537 as a part of the consolidation agreement.

Any agreement between any localities to form a consolidated city when adopted and approved as provided herein, together with the charter, shall be the form of the consolidated city. The governing body of the consolidated city shall have the power to make amendments to the consolidation agreement not contrary to general law. No such amendments shall become effective until such amendments have been approved by the General Assembly in accordance with the procedures established by Chapter 2 (§ 15.2-200 et seq.).

12. Any agreement between any localities to form a consolidated county may likewise incorporate provisions of any charter of any such localities proposing to consolidate and also may include the provisions of any of the optional forms of county government set forth in this title. In any form of government approved by the voters hereunder, irrespective of any other provisions of law, the initial membership of the governing body shall be as set forth in such consolidation agreement. Such agreement when adopted and approved as provided herein shall be the form of the consolidated county, and the provisions of the first paragraph of subdivision 11 above shall be applicable, mutatis mutandis. The governing body of the consolidated county shall have the power to make amendments to the consolidation agreement not contrary to general law. No such amendments, excluding membership of the governing body, shall become effective until such amendments have been approved by the General Assembly in accordance with the procedures established by Chapter 2 (§ 15.2-200 et seq.).

13. In any consolidation by a county and all the towns therein into a consolidated county, or in any consolidation of a county and a city into a consolidated county, the area of any of such town or towns, city or cities may be designated as a special service district, and the delivery of water, sewer and similar type services may be continued. The consolidated county shall have the same powers, rights and duties with respect to the public rights-of-way, streets and alleys within such district and receive State Highway Fund allocations as did such town or towns, city or cities prior to consolidation. The roads in the area formerly located solely within the county shall continue to be maintained as they were prior to the consolidation, and this subdivision shall not be construed to authorize any allocation from highway funds not previously authorized. The boundaries of such special service district or districts may be altered from time to time by ordinance of the governing body duly adopted after public hearing.

14. Any consolidation agreement may provide for offering to the voters the option of adopting a city or county form of government as well as the option between forms of county governments.

15. The agreement between a county and the incorporated towns located entirely therein consolidated pursuant to this article may contain provisions for the establishment of special service tax districts wherein a tax may be levied on all classes of property within those shires, where, upon the effective date of the consolidation agreement, there exists, or the consolidation agreement provides for, additional or more complete governmental services than the level of services which are being provided or will, under the agreement, be provided in other shires, or in the consolidated county as a whole. Additional or more complete governmental services include, but are not limited to, water supply, sewerage, garbage removal and disposal, heat, lighting, streets, sidewalks and storm drains, fire-fighting equipment and services, and additional law-enforcement services but shall not include separate police forces, additional schools or other basic governmental services to which all citizens are entitled. Any additional revenue produced from any such tax shall be segregated into a separate fund and expended by such consolidated county solely in the shire or special service tax district wherein such additional tax is assessed. The consolidation agreement shall establish the initial boundary lines of the shires and the tax rates within each shire. Future adjustments in the boundaries of the shires or special service tax districts shall be made in accordance with § 15.2-2401, which shall apply to the consolidated county as it does to the consolidated cities described therein. The governing body of the consolidated county shall have the same power as the city council referred to in such section. Such governing body also shall have the power to tax all sources of revenue which the previous county or incorporated towns therein had prior to such consolidation.

16. In the event of consolidation of a county and a city into a single county incorporating a tier-city therein, any rights provided to counties, cities and towns in Chapters 32 (§ 15.2-3200 et seq.), 33 (§ 15.2-3300 et seq.), 36 (§ 15.2-3600 et seq.), 38 (§ 15.2-3800 et seq.), and 39 (§ 15.2-3900 et seq.) may be modified or waived in whole or in part, as set forth in the consolidation agreement, provided that the modification or waiver does not conflict with the Constitution of Virginia and provided that such provision in the consolidation agreement is approved pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 34 (§ 15.2-3400 et seq.) prior to the effective date of consolidation.

17. The agreement may provide for a subsequent referendum of the voters of all or part of one or more of the consolidating localities to be held after a favorable referendum on the initial question of consolidating. This subsequent referendum shall take the sense of the voters of an area or areas of the consolidating localities, as determined in the discretion of the governing bodies of the consolidating localities, on the question of dividing that area or portion from the newly consolidated locality and consolidating that area or portion with an adjoining locality not a part of the newly consolidated locality. The terms and conditions of this division and consolidation may be included in the agreement or may be determined by the Commission on Local Government if the affected localities are unable to agree. The nonagreeing locality shall have the right to reject the recommendations of the Commission, and not accept such area or portion.

18. In the event of consolidation of counties and cities into a single city which completely surrounds another city, the agreement may provide for the subsequent unilateral consolidation of the surrounded city into the consolidated city at any time. The agreement shall provide that a referendum take the sense of the voters of the surrounded city on the question of whether the surrounded city and the surrounding consolidated city shall consolidate.

19. In the event of consolidation of such counties and cities into a single city which completely surrounds another city, the agreement may provide for the subsequent unilateral consolidation and conversion of the surrounded city to a township within the surrounding consolidated city at any time. The agreement shall provide that a referendum take the sense of the voters of the surrounded city on the question of whether such city shall convert to a township. The township may, in the discretion of its council, continue to be called a city and may formally be referred to as ____________________ city, a Virginia township. Such township shall have no right to become an independent city, nor to annex or exercise any extraterritorial jurisdiction within the consolidated city but otherwise shall have the rights, powers and immunities granted towns. The consolidated city's legal relationship with such township shall be governed by the same laws that govern county-town relationships, except as modified herein.

Code 1950, § 15-222.3; 1950, p. 1607; 1956, c. 554; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1135; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 36; 1975, c. 214; 1979, c. 85; 1983, c. 4; 1984, c. 695; 1986, c. 312; 1989, c. 656; 1990, c. 424; 1991, c. 189; 1995, c. 728; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3535. Advertising of charter.

The governing bodies, or a committee acting for and in lieu of the governing body under § 15.2-3531, may draft a charter for a consolidated city or a tier-city to be adopted as a part of the consolidation agreement. The advertising of the consolidation agreement as provided in § 15.2-3537 shall include a statement that a copy of the text of the charter is on file in the clerks' offices of the circuit courts of the consolidating localities and is open to public inspection.

1984, c. 695, § 15.1-1135.1; 1986, c. 312; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3536. Charter for consolidated city.

If a proposed charter for a consolidated city has been approved by the General Assembly for adoption in any area in which a consolidation of localities is proposed to be effected in accordance with the provisions of this article, then in any subsequent proceedings under the provisions of this article, such charter may be used as the basis for a new consolidation agreement, or upon petition of ten percent of the registered voters of any county and city as of January 1 of the year in which the petition is filed subject to the provisions of this article, such proposed charter may be submitted to the voters of such counties and cities for adoption as the charter of the consolidated city and shall in all respects fulfill the requirements of the consolidation agreement provided for in this article.

Code 1950, § 15-222.4; 1950, p. 1609; 1952, c. 267; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1136; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3537. Publication of consolidation agreement.

Each locality which is a party to a consolidation agreement shall cause a copy of the consolidation agreement, or a descriptive summary of the agreement and a reference to the place in the locality where a copy of the agreement may be examined, to be published in its locality at least once a week for four successive weeks in a newspaper having a general circulation in the locality.

Code 1950, § 15-223; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1137; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3538. Order for election.

When publication of the consolidation agreement or descriptive summary in each of the localities is completed or, in the case of a proposed consolidated new city, when the court has entered an appropriate order under the provisions of subsection A of § 15.2-3526, the respective chief judges of the circuit courts for the counties and for the cities, shall, by order entered of record in each county and city, require the regular election officers of the locality on the day fixed in the order, issued in accordance with Article 5 (§ 24.2-681 et seq.) of Chapter 6 of Title 24.2, which date shall be the same in each of the localities proposing to consolidate, to open a poll and take the sense of the voters of each locality on the question submitted as hereinafter provided. Certification from the owner, editor or manager of each newspaper publishing the agreement or descriptive summary shall be proof of publication.

Code 1950, § 15-224; 1950, p. 1608; 1956, c. 554; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1138; 1975, c. 517; 1979, c. 85; 1986, c. 312; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3539. Conduct of election.

The regular election officers, at the time designated in the order authorizing the vote, shall open the polls at the various voting places in their respective localities and conduct the election in such manner as is provided by general law for other elections insofar as the same is applicable. The ballots for each county, including the towns therein, and for each city shall be prepared by the electoral boards thereof and distributed to the various election precincts thereof as provided by law. The ballots used shall be printed and shall contain the following:

"Shall........… (here insert the names of localities proposing to consolidate) consolidate?

[ ] Yes

[ ] No"

In the case of a consolidation agreement offering to the voters the option of choosing between two forms of government, the ballots used shall also contain the following:

"What form of consolidated government shall be adopted?

(Vote for one only)

[ ] City charter, or

[ ] County form"

If the option is between other forms of county government, then the ballots shall be printed accordingly.

Code 1950, § 15-225; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1139; 1975, c. 214; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3540. Result of elections; determination of form of government.

The ballots shall be counted and returns made and canvassed as in other elections, and the results certified by the electoral board to each of the judges of the circuit courts having jurisdiction in the localities proposing to be consolidated. If it appears by the report that a majority of the voters of each locality voting on the question submitted are in favor of the consolidation provided that no separate vote on the question shall be required in towns within a county when such county proposes to consolidate in its entirety with a county or city having a common boundary, the judge or judges shall enter such fact of record in each such county and city and shall notify the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Upon the day prescribed in the order for the consolidation agreement to become effective, the localities shall be consolidated into a city or into a city and one or more counties or into a single county as proposed in the consolidation agreement.

If the election offers to the voters a choice between forms of government, the question shall be determined by a majority of all the voters voting in such election and reported accordingly.

Code 1950, § 15-226; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1140; 1970, c. 751; 1975, c. 214; 1978, c. 642; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3541. General effect of consolidation; officers.

Upon the effective date of consolidation, the localities so consolidated, other than the consolidated county or city or town, and other than townships as provided by § 15.2-3548, shall terminate, as shall the terms of office and the rights, powers, duties and compensation of the officers, agents and employees of each such county, city or town. When such agreement provides for consolidation of the area into a county or city, or when such agreement provides for consolidation of the area into a county in which a tier-city will exist, then the judge or judges of the court or courts having jurisdiction within the area comprised by the consolidated county or city shall order an election to be held not less than thirty nor more than 185 days after the date upon which the referendum provided for in §§ 15.2-3538, 15.2-3539 and 15.2-3540 was held, but at least thirty days before the effective date of such consolidation agreement, at which election officers for the new consolidated county or city, or for the new consolidated county and tier-city shall be elected.

The officers so elected shall take office upon the effective date of consolidation and shall serve until their successors have been elected, qualified and taken office. Their successors shall be elected at the next regular election time for such officers as provided for by general law.

No election required by this section or by § 15.2-3538 shall be held on the day of a primary election nor within the sixty days prior to a general or primary election. Should the final day by which either such election must be held fall within the sixty days prior to a general election, the required election must be held on the same day as the general election. Should such final day fall within the sixty days prior to a primary election, the required election must be held not less than thirty nor more than forty-five days after the primary election.

Code 1950, § 15-227; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1141; 1979, c. 85; 1984, c. 695; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3542. Governing body to be elected and take office before effective date of consolidation in certain cases; powers.

A. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 15.2-3541 or any other statutory provision, in any consolidation which results in the formation of a consolidated county with a tier-city therein, the consolidation agreement may provide as follows:

1. The special election provided in § 15.2-3541 may apply solely to election of members of boards of supervisors and members of tier-city councils, with all other elected officers being elected at the general election next preceding the effective date of consolidation.

2. Members of the governing bodies elected at such special elections may assume office immediately upon qualification, and no later than thirty days following the date upon which the special election was held, as provided in § 24.2-201, and shall hold office prior to the effective date of consolidation, only for such of the following limited purposes as may be provided by the consolidation agreement:

a. Organization of itself and election of one of its members as chairman of the board of supervisors or as mayor, as the case may be.

b. Preparation and approval of budgets applicable to the respective newly formed governmental entities, for the fiscal year or partial fiscal year beginning with the effective date of consolidation.

c. Adoption of ordinances required or permitted by the consolidation agreement, to be effective upon the date of consolidation.

d. Hiring by the newly elected tier-city council of a tier-city manager, tier-city attorney and clerk of council.

e. Hiring by the newly elected board of supervisors of its chief administrative officer, county attorney, and clerk of board.

f. Negotiation, preparation and approval of leases, servicing agreements, and other documents required by the consolidation agreement, or otherwise deemed advisable.

B. Prior to the effective date of consolidation, provision shall be made for funding the activities described in subdivision 2 of subsection A.

C. Upon the effective date of consolidation, all elected officers who have taken the oath of office shall assume full powers, duties, rights and responsibilities of their respective offices.

D. Any member of a governing body of a consolidating locality may be elected to public office, for which he or she is otherwise qualified, in a governing body of a new governmental entity formed by consolidation. For the limited time period and limited purposes specified in subdivision 2 of subsection A, such officers may hold both offices at the same time.

1984, c. 695, § 15.1-1141.1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3543. Electoral board, general registrar and officers of election.

A. If any county and all incorporated towns located therein consolidate into a county or city, the members of the electoral board, general registrar and officers of election of the consolidating county or city shall continue to serve as like officers of the consolidated county or city until the expiration of the terms to which they were appointed.

B. If one or more counties or cities consolidate into a single county or city, the provisions set forth in this subsection shall apply as follows:

1. Electoral Board. -- The terms of the electoral board members of the consolidating localities shall expire on the effective date of consolidation. The judges of the circuit courts of the consolidating localities, no later than thirty days prior to the effective date of consolidation, shall appoint pursuant to § 24.2-106 for the consolidated county or city an electoral board of three members who shall qualify and take office on the day following the effective date of consolidation. The term of the first member so appointed shall expire at midnight on the last day of February in the year following the year in which he takes office; the term of the second member appointed shall expire one year later; and the term of the third member shall expire two years later. At a meeting to be held on the day its members take office, the electoral board for the consolidated county or city shall (i) designate one of the general registrars of the consolidating jurisdictions to serve as the general registrar of the consolidated county or city until midnight on March 31 following the effective date of consolidation and (ii) appoint pursuant to §§ 24.2-109 and 24.2-115 the officers of election for the consolidated county or city. At a meeting to be held in the first week of March following the effective date of consolidation, such electoral board shall appoint pursuant to §§ 24.2-109 and 24.2-110 a general registrar for the consolidated county or city who shall qualify and take office on April 1 following the effective date of consolidation and serve for the remainder of the term set forth in § 24.2-110.

2. General Registrar. -- The general registrars of the consolidating jurisdictions shall continue in office, with one of them designated the general registrar for the consolidated county or city as hereinabove provided, until midnight on March 31 following the effective date of consolidation during which time they shall compile, on the schedule and in the manner prescribed by the State Board of Elections, the registration records for the consolidated county or city. The governing body of the consolidated county or city shall pay the salary of each such general registrar in the amount authorized by the State Board of Elections and shall be reimbursed for such compensation from the state treasury.

3. Officers of Election. -- The terms of the officers of election of the consolidating jurisdictions shall expire on the effective date of consolidation.

1986, c. 312, § 15.1-1141.2; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3544. Effect on pending suits.

Any action or proceeding pending by or against any of the consolidated localities may be perfected to judgment as if such consolidation had not taken place, or the consolidated locality, if any, may be substituted.

Code 1950, § 15-228; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1142; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3545. Effect on assembly districts.

For the purpose of representation of the consolidated localities in the General Assembly, the existing senatorial and house districts shall continue until changed in accordance with law.

Code 1950, § 15-229; 1958, c. 332; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1143; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3546. Effect on jurisdiction of courts.

Unless and until changed by general law, the jurisdiction and authority of the circuit courts having jurisdiction within any area covered by the consolidation agreement shall remain as provided for in general law as if no consolidation had occurred.

Code 1950, § 15-230; 1956, c. 554; 1958, c. 101; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1144; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3547. Consolidation of entire county requires no action of town council.

An entire county may be consolidated with any county or city having a common boundary in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this article without the necessity of any action concerning the consolidation being taken by the council of any town situated in such county and without the necessity of a separate referendum in any such town on the question of the consolidation.

Code 1950, § 15-231; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1145; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3548. Effect on town charter.

A. Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, any town located within or partially within a county proposing to consolidate with another county or city, or combination thereof, into a consolidated county and which is not a party to the consolidation agreement, shall continue as a town in the consolidated county.

B. Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, in the event a proposed consolidation of a county with another county or city into a consolidated city is approved by the voters as provided in § 15.2-3540, any town located within or partially within a county and not a party to the consolidation agreement shall continue as a township. The charter of such town shall become the charter of the township. Such townships established pursuant to this subsection shall continue to exercise such powers and elect such officers as the township charter may authorize and shall exercise such other powers as towns exercise under general law. However, no township shall exercise the powers granted towns by Chapter 38 (§ 15.2-3800 et seq.) or by Article 1 (§ 15.2-3200 et seq.) of Chapter 32, or any extraterritorial authority granted towns by Chapter 22 (§ 15.2-2200 et seq.), except that a township created as a result of a consolidation of a city and county subsequent to July 1, 2011, may institute proceedings for annexation pursuant to Article 1 (§ 15.2-3200 et seq.) of Chapter 32 if the consolidation agreement permits a township to exercise such authority. The consolidated city shall exercise such powers in the township as were exercised by the county in the town prior to consolidation. Townships shall receive from the Commonwealth financial assistance in the same manner and to the same extent as is provided towns. A township may transfer all or part of the revenues it receives, the services it performs, its facilities, other assets, and debts to the consolidated city by agreement of the governing bodies.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1146.1; 1997, c. 587; 2011, cc. 337, 349.

§ 15.2-3549. Powers of a tier-city.

Notwithstanding any other provisions of this article, any city located entirely within the boundary of any county proposing to consolidate with such county, and which becomes a tier-city shall have, mutatis mutandis, all the powers, duties and responsibilities of a town together with such additional powers as may be granted it by law, general or special. The appropriate provisions of the charter for such city may be made a part of the consolidation agreement and in that event shall become the charter of such tier-city, subject to the subsequent approval of the General Assembly. Such tier-city established pursuant to this section shall continue to exercise such powers and elect such officers as the tier-city charter may authorize and such other powers as tier-cities or towns exercise under general law. Except for those powers reserved to the tier-city in the consolidation agreement, the consolidated county shall exercise such powers in the tier-city as are exercised by counties in towns. Tier-cities shall receive from the Commonwealth financial assistance in the same manner and to the same extent as is provided towns. A tier-city may transfer all or part of the revenues it receives, the services it performs, its facilities, or other assets to the county by agreement of the governing bodies. The governing bodies may provide by agreement for the assumption of all or part of the tier-city's debt by the consolidated county. The tier-city boundaries within the county may be established initially as agreed to and provided for in the consolidation agreement.

1984, c. 695, § 15.1-1146.1:1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3550. Effect of consolidation into single county; exceptions for tier-city.

If the consolidation agreement provides for the consolidation of counties, cities and towns or any of them into a single county, and such agreement is approved by a majority of the voters voting in the election provided for in this article, then the existence of such localities as governmental entities of the Commonwealth shall cease, except as to towns continued under the provisions of § 15.2-3548. The governmental powers and functions of the consolidated governmental entities shall be transferred to the county therein provided for, except as herein otherwise set forth. The streets of the former cities and towns shall become and remain a part of the primary state highway system unless otherwise provided in the consolidation agreement. All property, real and personal, of each such county, city or town shall be transferred to and vested in such consolidated county, except as may be otherwise provided for in the consolidation agreement providing for the establishment of a tier-city. All suits or actions or causes of action pending by or against any such county, city or town shall continue to exist and may be brought or continued by or against such consolidated county, except as may be otherwise provided for in the consolidation agreement providing for the establishment of a tier-city.

Code 1950, § 15-231.2; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1147; 1975, c. 214; 1979, c. 85; 1984, c. 695; 1997, c. 587.

Chapter 36. Incorporation of Towns By Judicial Proceeding.

§ 15.2-3600. Petition for incorporation of community; appointment of special court.

A petition signed by 100 voters of any community may be presented to the circuit court for the county in which such community, or the greater part thereof, is situated, requesting that the community be incorporated as a town. A plat showing the boundaries of the community shall be attached to the petition. The circuit court with which the petition is filed shall notify the Supreme Court, which shall appoint a special court to hear the case as prescribed by Chapter 30 (§ 15.2-3000 et seq.) of this title. The plat shall be prepared by a registered surveyor in a form suitable for recording in the clerk's office of the circuit court. A copy of the petition shall be served upon the county attorney or, if there is no county attorney, the attorney for the Commonwealth, and each member of the governing body of the county or counties wherein the area sought to be incorporated lies. The governing body at its option may become a party to the proceeding. The petition shall be accompanied by proof that:

1. The petition has been available for public inspection in the office of the clerk of the circuit court; and

2. The following have been published once a week for four successive weeks in a newspaper having general circulation in the county:

a. Notice of the time and place the petition would be presented; and

b. The text of the petition in full; or

c. A descriptive summary of the petition and notice that the petition may be inspected at the circuit court clerk's office.

Code 1950, § 15-66; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-966; 1964, c. 467; 1975, c. 629; 1976, c. 586; 1979, c. 85; 1980, c. 45; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3601. Hearing before Commission on Local Government; notice; parties; finding of Commission.

Upon request of the special court, the Commission on Local Government shall conduct a hearing to determine whether the criteria in § 15.2-3602 have been satisfied. The hearing shall be set no less than thirty days after receipt of the petition by the Commission. All interested parties may present evidence before the Commission, and any county in which is located the area proposed for incorporation shall be made parties to the Commission's hearing.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-966.1; 1980, c. 170; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3602. Proof required and order for incorporation.

A. The special court shall order that the proposed town be incorporated upon proof that:

1. It will be in the interest of the inhabitants within the proposed town;

2. The prayer of the petition is reasonable;

3. The general good of the community will be promoted;

4. The number of inhabitants of the proposed town exceeds 1,000;

5. The area of land designated to be embraced within the town is not excessive;

6. The population density of the county in which such community is located does not exceed 200 persons per square mile according to the last preceding United States census, or other census directed by the court; and

7. The services required by the community cannot be provided by the establishment of a sanitary district, or under other arrangements provided by law, or through extension of existing services provided by the county in which the community is located.

B. The order shall recite the substance of the petition and the due publication thereof, and that the requirements of subsection A have been met. The order shall (i) be entered upon the court's common-law order book, (ii) decree that the community is incorporated as a town by the name of "The Town of ____________________ (naming it)," and (iii) designate the metes and bounds of the town or incorporate by reference the recorded plat. Thereafter the inhabitants within such bounds shall be a body politic and corporate, with all the powers, privileges and duties conferred upon and appertaining to towns under the general law. However, such town shall perform no municipal services or contract any debt until its governing body is elected, qualifies and takes office. A copy of the order shall be certified by the court to the Secretary of the Commonwealth, who shall certify it to all proper officers of the Commonwealth. No town created under this section subsequent to January 1, 1972, and no city formed from such town shall consolidate with any county or portion thereof under the provisions of Article 2 (§ 15.2-3520 et seq.) of Chapter 35 of this title.

Code 1950, § 15-67; 1950, p. 443; 1956, c. 217; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-967; 1964, c. 467; 1972, c. 863; 1979, c. 85; 1980, c. 45; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3603. Request for charter.

At the session of the General Assembly following its incorporation, the town shall request the General Assembly to grant it a charter.

No judge shall grant a town a charter. Until a town is granted a charter by the General Assembly, the town's affairs shall be conducted exclusively under the provisions of general law.

1980, c. 45, § 15.1-967.2; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3604. How first election ordered and held.

An order incorporating a town under this chapter shall order the first election of town officers and shall designate the time and place where the election shall be held in the town. The election shall be at least 90 days from the date of the order and not within 120 days of a general election. The electoral board of the county within which the town, or the greater part thereof, is situated shall, not less than 90 days before the election, determine the qualified voters within the town, and the general registrar for the county shall provide the appropriate notice, in accordance with § 24.2-114. At any time the books are not closed pursuant to § 24.2-416, any person residing in the town who has not registered shall be entitled to register and vote in the town if he would have been entitled to register and vote in the county. Five members of council shall be elected and shall serve until their successors, elected pursuant to charter provisions, qualify and take office. The officers of election shall comply with the requirements of Title 24.2. If, for any cause no election is held on the day fixed in the order, the court may, by an order entered in its common-law order book, fix another day for the election, which shall be held as required by this section.

Code 1950, § 15-69; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-969; 1980, c. 45; 1997, c. 587; 2003, c. 1015.

§ 15.2-3605. How appeals granted and heard.

An appeal may be granted by the Supreme Court or any justice thereof. Court costs shall be awarded as the Supreme Court determines. The costs in the Supreme Court shall be awarded to the party substantially prevailing.

Code 1950, § 15-71; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-971; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

Chapter 37. Annulment of Town Charters.

§ 15.2-3700. Towns may annul charters.

A town may annul its charter in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

1992, c. 453, § 15.1-965.28; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3701. Agreement required.

Before initiating proceedings pursuant to this chapter, a town council shall enter into an agreement with the board of supervisors of the county or counties within which the town is located. The agreement shall provide for the transfer to the county or counties of all of the revenues the town receives, the services it performs, its facilities, including real and personal property, and other assets, including all debts due to the town, and for the assumption by the county or counties of all of the town's indebtedness, bonded and otherwise.

The agreement required by this section may be an agreement between the governing body of the town and the governing bodies of two or more counties or cities, in one or more of which the town is located, which are parties to a consolidation agreement under Chapter 35 (§ 15.2-3500 et seq.) of this title and may provide that the agreement shall be binding on the consolidated jurisdiction upon the effective date of consolidation.

1992, c. 453, § 15.1-965.29; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3702. Ordinance required.

After the agreement required by § 15.2-3701 has been reached, the town council may, by ordinance passed by a recorded majority vote of all the members thereof, petition the circuit court for the county or counties in which the town is located for an order requiring a referendum on the question of whether the town charter shall be annulled and repealed.

1992, c. 453, § 15.1-965.30; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3703. Notice of motion; service and publication; docketing.

Upon adoption of the ordinance required by § 15.2-3702, the town shall serve notice on the attorney for the Commonwealth, or on the county attorney, if there is one, and on the chairman of the governing body of the county or counties in which the town is located that it will, on a given day, not less than thirty days thereafter, move the circuit court for an order as provided by § 15.2-3702. A copy of the notice and ordinance, or a descriptive summary of the notice and ordinance and a reference to the place within the town where copies of the notice and ordinance may be examined, shall be published at least once a week for four successive weeks in a newspaper having general circulation in the town. The proof of service or certificate of service of the notice and ordinance shall be returned after service to the clerk of the circuit court. When the publication of the notice and ordinance is completed, the case shall be docketed for entry of the referendum order. Certification of the owner, editor or manager of the newspaper publishing the notice and ordinance shall be proof of publication.

1992, c. 453, § 15.1-965.31; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3704. Order for election; conduct of election.

When publication of the notice and ordinance is completed, the circuit court shall by order issued in accordance with § 24.2-684 require the regular election officers of the county or counties in which the town is located to open the polls on the day fixed in the order and take the sense of the qualified voters of the town on the question submitted as provided in this section. The regular election officers, at the time designated in the order, shall open the polls at the various voting places in the town and conduct the election in the manner provided by general law for other elections. The ballots used shall be printed and shall contain the following:

"Shall the charter for the Town of ____________________ be annulled and repealed?

[ ] Yes

[ ] No."

1992, c. 453, §§ 15.1-965.32, 15.1-965.33; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3705. Results of election.

The ballots shall be counted and returns made and canvassed as in other elections and the results certified by the secretary of the electoral board to the judge of the circuit court. If the report of the secretary of the electoral board shows that a majority of the qualified voters of the town voting on the question submitted are in favor of the annulment, the judge shall enter such fact of record and shall notify the Secretary of the Commonwealth, and the annulment shall be effective on January 1 of the year following the year in which the order entering such fact of record is issued or, in the discretion of the court, on the second January 1 following the year in which issued. However, the court, upon joint petition of the governing bodies of the town and county or counties in which the town is located, may order the annulment effective on any other date or dates.

1992, c. 453, § 15.1-965.34; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3706. Annulment of surrendered charter.

Upon the effective date of the annulment, the town charter which is surrendered by the ordinance shall be annulled. The terms and conditions of the contract with the county or counties in which the town is located required by § 15.2-3701 shall be a binding and irrevocable contract in favor of the public, compliance with which in all its parts may be enforced, and violation of which may be prevented, by mandamus or injunction from the Supreme Court or from any circuit court at the suit or relation of any citizen or taxpayer.

1992, c. 453, § 15.1-965.35; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3707. General effect of annulment.

Upon the effective date of annulment, the town shall terminate, as shall the terms of office and the rights, powers, duties and compensation of the officers, agents and employees of the town.

1992, c. 453, § 15.1-965.36; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3708. Transfer of property and indebtedness.

Upon the effective date of annulment, the title to all property, real and personal, tangible and intangible, of the former town shall be vested in, and the indebtedness become a debt of, the county or counties in which the town was located without any further act or deed.

1992, c. 453, § 15.1-965.37; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3709. Special debt district.

If so provided in the agreement required by § 15.2-3701, the territory constituting the former town may be a special debt district for the purpose of repaying all or part of the existing indebtedness chargeable to the town before annulment. A special tax on real property within the special debt district shall be levied for a period not exceeding twenty years. The special tax may be different from and in addition to the general tax rate throughout the entire county or counties in which the town was located.

1992, c. 453, § 15.1-965.38; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3710. Records and documents.

All records and documents of the former town shall pass to and be held by the county or counties in which the town was located which shall be responsible for the preservation, maintenance and custody of these records and documents.

1992, c. 453, § 15.1-965.39; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3711. Effect on pending suits.

If at the time of annulment there are any pending actions or proceedings by or against the town, or if after the effective date of annulment an action or proceeding out of a cause of action which arose prior to the time of annulment, which but for the annulment would have been by or against the town, is instituted, the county or counties in which the town was located shall be substituted in place thereof and the proceeding may be perfected to judgment. The agreement required by § 15.2-3701 may provide that if judgment against the county or counties results from the proceeding, the liability shall be paid by the special debt district as provided in § 15.2-3709.

1992, c. 453, § 15.1-965.40; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3712. Repeal of charter.

After a town charter has been annulled in accordance with this chapter, the local governing body of the county or counties in which the town was located shall make a request to a state legislator representing that county that the General Assembly repeal the town charter at the next legislative session.

1992, c. 453, § 15.1-965.41; 1997, c. 587.

Chapter 38. Transition of Towns to Cities.

§ 15.2-3800. Ordinance petitioning court for city status; appointment of special court.

Any town, except a town located within a county or any portion of a county granted immunity as provided by Chapter 33 (§ 15.2-3300 et seq.) from the incorporation of new cities within its boundaries, may, by ordinance passed by a recorded majority vote of all the members thereof, petition the circuit court for the county within which the town lies, alleging that the town meets the criteria set out in subsection A of § 15.2-3807, for an order granting city status to the town. The circuit court with which the petition is filed shall notify the Supreme Court, which shall appoint a special court to hear the case as prescribed by Chapter 30 (§ 15.2-3000 et seq.) of this title.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-982.1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3801. Referendum.

Prior to the adoption of an ordinance petitioning the court for city status, the town council shall petition the court to order a referendum held within the town on the question of seeking city status. The provisions of § 24.2-684 shall govern the order for a referendum. The question on the ballot shall be:

"Shall the Town of ____________________ seek to become a city?

[ ] Yes

[ ] No."

If a majority of the electorate voting in the referendum vote "No," the town council shall not proceed in seeking city status. If a majority of the electorate voting in such referendum vote "Yes," the town council shall proceed as provided in § 15.2-3800.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-982.2; 1982, c. 181; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3802. Town and county agreement concerning proposed city.

No court proceedings shall be instituted until the governing bodies of the town and county have failed, in the sole opinion of the governing body of the town, to reach an agreement with respect to the proposed city. If the governing bodies reach an agreement, it shall be certified by order of the special court and a grant of city status shall be made upon a finding that the criteria set out in subsection A of § 15.2-3807 have been satisfied.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-982.2; 1982, c. 181; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3803. Notice of motion; service and publication; answer or other pleading.

At least thirty days before instituting a proceeding for a grant of city status, a town shall serve notice on the county attorney, or if there is none, on the attorney for the Commonwealth, and on the chairman of the board of supervisors of the county or counties within which the town lies that it will, on a given day, petition the circuit court for a grant of city status. The notice served on each official shall include a certified copy of the ordinance. A copy of the notice and ordinance, or a descriptive summary of the notice and ordinance and a reference to the place within the town where copies of the notice and ordinance may be examined, shall be published at least once a week for four successive weeks in a newspaper having general circulation in the town and county, or counties, in which the town is situated. The notice and ordinance shall be returned after service to the clerk of the circuit court. Certification from the owner, editor or manager of the newspaper publishing the notice and ordinance shall be proof of publication.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-982.3; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3804. Parties.

In any proceeding instituted under the provisions of this chapter, the county or counties in which the town is situated shall be made party to the case. Any voter or property owner of the town or county or counties in which the town is situated may by petition become party to the proceeding. Any locality with a common boundary or other person affected by the proceeding may appear and shall be made party to the case.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-982.4; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3805. Time limit for intervenors; publication of order.

The special court shall by order fix a time within which a voter, property owner or political subdivision not served may become a party to a proceeding instituted under this chapter, and thereafter no such petition shall be received, except for good cause shown. A copy of the order shall be published at least once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county and in the adjoining or adjacent counties and cities.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-982.5; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3806. Pretrial conference; matters considered.

The special court shall, prior to hearing any case under this chapter, direct the attorneys for the parties to appear before it or, in its discretion, before a single judge, for a conference to consider:

1. Simplification of the issues;

2. Amendment of pleadings and filing of additional pleadings;

3. Stipulations as to facts, documents, records, photographs, plans and like matters, which will dispense with formal proof thereof, including:

a. Assessed values and the ratio of assessed values to true values, as determined by the State Department of Taxation, in the town seeking to become a city and in the remaining portion of the county including real property, personal property, machinery and tools, merchants' capital and public service corporation assessment for each year of the five years immediately preceding;

b. School population and school enrollment in the town seeking to become a city and in the remaining portion of the county, as shown by the records in the office of the division superintendent of schools; and the cost of education per pupil in average daily membership, as shown by the most recent report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction; and

c. Population and the population density of the town seeking to become a city and of the remaining portion of the county;

4. The method of taking any population census requested by the petitioner;

5. Limitation on the number of expert witnesses; each expert witness who will testify shall file a statement of his qualifications; and

6. Such other matters as may aid in the disposition of the case.

The court, or the judge, as the case may be, shall make an appropriate order which will control the subsequent conduct of the case unless modified before or during the trial or hearing to prevent manifest injustice.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-982.7; 1997, c. 587; 2010, cc. 386, 629.

§ 15.2-3807. Hearing and decision by court.

A. The special court shall enter an order granting city status to a town if, after hearing the evidence, it finds that:

1. The town has a minimum population of 5,000 persons;

2. The town has the fiscal ability to function as an independent city and is able to provide appropriate urban-type services including, based on the advice of the State Department of Education, an independent school system;

3. The creation of the new independent city will not substantially impair the ability of the county or counties from which the town is to be separated to meet the service needs of the remaining population, particularly in education, unless provision is made by order of the court or by agreement of the governing bodies to offset such impairment; and

4. After a consideration of the best interests of the parties, the interest of the Commonwealth in the compliance with and promotion of state policies with respect to environmental protection, public planning, education, public transportation, housing and other state service policies declared by the General Assembly, and the interest of the Commonwealth in promoting strong and viable units of government in the area, a grant of city status should be made.

B. Any order granting city status to a town shall set forth in detail all such terms and conditions upon which the city status is granted as are not provided in this chapter. The order shall be effective on January 1 following the year in which the order is issued or, in the discretion of the court, on the second January 1 following the year in which the order is issued. All county taxes assessed in the town for the year before which the transition becomes effective, and for all prior years, shall be paid to the county.

C. A copy of the order shall be certified to the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

D. If a majority of the court is of the opinion that the criteria set out in subsection A have not been met, then the petition shall be dismissed.

E. The court shall render a written opinion in every case brought under this chapter.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-982.8; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3808. Assistance of state agencies.

The special court may, in its discretion, direct any appropriate state agency, in addition to the Commission on Local Government, to gather and present evidence, including statistical data and exhibits, for the court, subject to the usual rules of evidence. The court shall determine the actual expense of preparing such evidence, and shall tax such expense as costs in the case, which costs shall be paid by the clerk into the general fund of the state treasury, and credited to the agency furnishing the evidence.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-982.9; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3809. Appeals.

Appeals may be granted by the Supreme Court of Virginia as provided in §§ 15.2-3221 and 15.2-3222, which shall apply mutatis mutandis.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-982.10; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3810. Declining of grant of city status.

In any proceeding brought under this chapter, the town council may, by ordinance or resolution, decline to accept city status on the terms and conditions imposed by the court at any time prior to twenty-one days after final adjudication establishing city status. In such case the court shall apportion the total costs, taking into consideration the extent to which county revenues are derived from within the town, the relative financial abilities of the parties, and the relative merits of the case.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-982.11; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3811. Proceeding final for three years.

If city status is denied a town, or if city status is declined under § 15.2-3810, no subsequent proceeding shall be brought under this chapter for three years from the date of the final order.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-982.12; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3812. Effect when town becomes city.

If a town becomes a city under this chapter, then:

1. Its charter, if it has one, shall remain in full force and effect insofar as its provisions do not conflict with this chapter;

2. Its ordinances shall be the ordinances of the city, insofar as they are applicable, until they are repealed by the city;

3. The officers of the town shall be the officers of the city until their successors are elected or appointed and qualify, except as provided in this chapter, and shall discharge the duties and be subject to the penalties imposed by such charter and ordinances and by general law; and

4. Provisions of the town charter in conflict with this title or other provisions of general law shall be repealed thereby.

Code 1950, § 15-83; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-983; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3813. Town liabilities and assets.

If a town becomes a city under this chapter, the city shall be liable for the bonded indebtedness and current debts and obligations of the town and shall be liable for the obligations or other liabilities of the town, both in law and in equity, arising out of any plans or annexations theretofore consummated between the town and any other territory. The title to all the property of the town, and its rights and privileges under any contract, including all moneys belonging to the town, and its books, records, papers and other things of value, shall vest in and become the city's property.

Code 1950, § 15-84; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-984; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3814. Mayor of town to continue in office.

If a town becomes a city under this chapter, the mayor of the town shall be the mayor of the city; shall receive the same salary and fees; and shall discharge the duties, be vested with the authority and be subject to the penalties imposed on him by the charter or general law. He shall serve until his successor is elected and qualified.

Code 1950, § 15-85; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-985; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3815. Council of town to continue in office; additional members.

If a town becomes a city under this chapter, the town council shall be the city council and discharge the duties and exercise the authority imposed on it by the charter and by general law. If in the order granting city status the special court prescribes a greater number to compose the city council than the number composing the town council, then the council shall, within thirty days after the date of the order of the court, or as soon thereafter as practicable, proceed to elect the additional members of the city council necessary to fill out the number prescribed in such order. The members shall serve until their successors are elected and qualified.

Code 1950, § 15-86; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-986; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3816. Town treasurer to continue in office; appointment where town had no treasurer.

If a town becomes a city under this chapter, the town treasurer, if there is one, shall be the city treasurer. If there is no town treasurer, then the vacancy shall be filled by appointment by the circuit court having jurisdiction over the city or town, pending the next ensuing general election or, if the vacancy occurs within 120 days prior to such election, pending the second ensuing general election.

The city treasurer, whether he is such by reason of having held the office of town treasurer or by appointment, shall not discharge any duties as city treasurer until he has given bond in a penalty to be fixed by the city council pursuant to § 15.2-1512 and also the bond required by § 15.2-1530. The treasurer so appointed shall qualify before the court appointing him. The treasurer's duties shall include handling the city's revenues from all sources as the council directs. He shall serve until his successor is elected and qualified.

Code 1950, § 15-87; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-987; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 158; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3817. Commissioner of revenue or assessor to continue in office; appointment where town had no commissioner or assessor.

If a town becomes a city under this chapter, the commissioner of revenue or assessor of the town, if there is one, shall be the commissioner of revenue of the city and discharge the duties imposed on him by the charter or by general law. If there is no commissioner of revenue or assessor of the town, then the circuit court having jurisdiction over such city or town shall, within thirty days after the town is declared to be a city, fill the vacancy by appointment, pending the next ensuing general election or, if the vacancy occurs within 120 days prior to such election, pending the second ensuing general election. The commissioner of revenue so appointed shall forthwith qualify before the court or judge appointing him or before the clerk of the circuit court in the clerk's office. He shall serve until his successor is elected and qualified.

Code 1950, § 15-88; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-988; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 158; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3818. Town sergeant to continue in office.

If a town becomes a city under this chapter, the sergeant of the town, if there is one, shall be the sheriff of the city and discharge all the duties imposed on him by the charter or by general law. The sheriff's duties and compensation shall be such as are provided by law for town sergeants. He shall serve until his successor is elected and qualified.

Code 1950, § 15-89; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-989; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 155; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3819. Election and terms of office of mayor and councilmen after town becomes city.

At a general election of city officers, to be held on the second Tuesday in May after a town is declared to be a city, a mayor and city council shall be elected for the city. The terms of office of the mayor and city council shall begin on July 1 following their election. The mayor shall serve for four years. One half of the council shall serve for two years, and the other half for four years.

Code 1950, § 15-90; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-990; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3820. Election and terms of other city officers.

At the next general election of state officers after (i) the town is declared to be a city and (ii) the regular term of office of the existing municipal officers expires, to be held on Tuesday after the first Monday in November, when similar officers are elected for other cities, a treasurer, a sheriff, an attorney for the Commonwealth, a clerk of the circuit court, and other officers elected by the qualified voters whose election is not otherwise provided for by law shall be elected. The terms of office of such officers shall begin on January 1 following their election and continue in accordance with § 24.2-217 as applicable to such elections and until their respective successors have been elected and qualify. The commissioner of revenue shall be elected or appointed as the general law directs.

Code 1950, § 15-91; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-991; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 68; 1973, c. 545; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3821. Qualification of officers; vacancies.

The officers for the election of whom provision is made by § 15.2-3820 whether elected at the first election for such officers held in the city or at any subsequent election held pursuant to § 24.2-217 or § 24.2-222 shall qualify before the circuit court having jurisdiction in the city or before the clerk of such court in the clerk's office. In the case of a vacancy in any such office the office shall be filled by appointment by the court, pending the next ensuing general election or, if the vacancy occurs within 120 days prior to such election, pending the second ensuing general election.

Code 1950, § 15-92; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-992; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 158; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3822. Sharing of offices; transfer of jurisdiction.

A. Any attorney for the Commonwealth, clerk of a circuit court, or sheriff who performed his duties and had jurisdiction in both a city and a county prior to July 1, 1979, under provisions of this chapter in effect prior to that date, shall continue to serve both localities until (i) the city ceases to share such positions in accordance with the provisions of general law or (ii) the city is transferred in accordance with the provisions of §§ 16.1-69.6 and 17.1-506 to a judicial circuit and district which is comprised of a county other than the circuit and district where the city was situated. Until such declaration or transfer is made, the qualified voters residing in the city may vote for these officers at the general election for county officers.

B. Upon the effective date of the transfer referred to in clause (ii) of subsection A, the judges of the circuit court for the county in the judicial circuit to which the city was transferred shall appoint the attorney for the Commonwealth and clerk of the circuit court for that adjoining county. If the city has a locally elected city sheriff, the city sheriff shall be the only sheriff for the city. The city may contract with the county to which it was transferred for jail facilities. If the effective date of the transfer is to take place within 120 days after an election for the clerk of the circuit court or attorney for the Commonwealth in the county to which the city is transferred, the voters of the city shall be entitled to vote in the election for each officer. The voting wards or precincts of the city shall be treated as precincts of the adjoining county and no candidate for these offices shall be required to qualify separately in the city. The qualified voters of the city shall thereafter be entitled to vote for these officers.

C. If the situation in either clause (i) or (ii) of subsection A occurs, then:

1. As to any crime occurring or civil cause of action arising in the city before the effective date of the transfer, the circuit court for the former judicial circuit shall have jurisdiction; and

2. As to any crime occurring or civil cause of action arising in the city on or after the effective date of the transfer involving a matter required by general law to be located in a circuit court, the circuit court for the judicial circuit to which the city was transferred shall have jurisdiction.

D. All writings authorized by law to be recorded in the circuit court for the city transferred pursuant to clause (ii) of subsection A shall be recorded in the circuit court to which the city was transferred beginning on the effective date of the transfer.

1980, c. 592, § 15.1-994.1; 1987, c. 624; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3823. Tenure and reelection of county officer whose homesite becomes part of city.

Any county officer who resides in the county or in any town therein, and has an established home therein, which homesite becomes a part of a city after such officer's election or appointment, shall not vacate his office by reason of his residence in the city, but shall continue to hold such office so long as he is successively elected or appointed to the office held by him at the time of the transition. Such officer shall for the purpose of his office be deemed to be a resident of the magisterial district in which the homesite was before becoming a part of a city. This section shall not apply to members of the school board of such county, who shall be governed by § 22.1-29.

Code 1950, § 15-94.1; 1950, p. 28; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-995; 1964, c. 202; 1966, c. 239; 1970, c. 455; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3824. Town officers.

Except as provided in this chapter, if a town becomes a city, officers of the town shall be officers of the city until the expiration of the term for which they were chosen or until they are removed according to law or their offices abolished by the city council.

Code 1950, § 15-95; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-996; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3825. Courts.

When a town is declared to be a city, such city shall at once be, become and continue unless and until changed by general law in every respect within the jurisdiction of the circuit court for the county wherein it is situated.

Code 1950, § 15-96; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-997; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3826. Appointment of electoral board, sheriff, attorney for the Commonwealth and circuit court clerk.

If a town becomes a city under this chapter, the circuit court having jurisdiction over the city shall appoint for the city an electoral board of three members, the term of one of whom shall expire on the first day of the following March, the term of another to expire one year later, and the term of the third to expire two years later than the term of the first. The court shall at the same time, if necessary, appoint one sheriff, one attorney for the Commonwealth and one clerk of the circuit court. The terms of all officers appointed by the circuit court shall expire when their successors are elected or appointed and qualify, pending the next ensuing general election or, if the vacancy occurs within 120 days prior to such election, pending the second ensuing general election.

Code 1950, § 15-97; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-998; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 158; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3827. Transfer of assessments to city books.

When the commissioner of the revenue of a city created under this chapter applies to the commissioner of the revenue of the county or other officer assessing real estate, he shall furnish from his books a transcript of the assessment of all real estate and personal property, and on his books he shall note that all such assessments have been transferred to the city books.

Code 1950, § 15-99; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1000; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3828. State, county and district taxes accruing before transition; county sales and use tax becomes city sales and use tax.

All state, county and district taxes on property within the territory occupied by a city created under this chapter that accrued before the city became such shall be payable to and collected by the county treasurer. The proceeds of all county and district taxes on property within the city shall be held by the county treasurer subject to the rights of the city to be adjusted in the manner hereinafter provided.

If a town becomes a city of the second class under this chapter, and a county sales and use tax was in force in the county in which such town was located at the time the order was entered pursuant to § 15.2-3807, such local sales and use tax shall continue in effect in the city as a city sales and use tax on and after the effective date of such order the same as if the tax had been duly imposed by the council of the city. The preceding sentence shall apply until the effective date of a local sales and use tax ordinance adopted by the city council under the applicable provisions of law; but the preceding sentence shall not apply if the council of the city, immediately after the town becomes a city, adopts a resolution to the effect that such local sales and use tax shall not be effective in the city.

Code 1950, § 15-101; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1002; 1968, c. 315; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3829. Assumption of debt; adjustment.

If a town becomes a city under this chapter, the city shall assume and provide for the reimbursement of the county of a just and reasonable proportion of any county debt existing at the date the town becomes a city, including any debt existing on any school district of which the town was a part.

The city council and the board of supervisors shall make an equitable adjustment of such debts. In making such adjustment the parties shall consider (i) the city's just proportion of money collected by the county treasurer under § 15.2-3828 and of any unexpended balance in the county treasury belonging to any fund to which the territory embraced in the city has contributed and (ii) all other equitable claims of the city, county and district. If the parties fail to make such adjustment, either party may proceed against the other by a bill in equity in the circuit court for the county in which the former town lies for a proper adjustment of such matter.

Code 1950, §§ 15-102, 15-103; 1962, c. 623, §§ 15.1-1003, 15.1-1004; 1980, c. 559; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3830. Certain costs and expenses to be apportioned between city and county.

After a town becomes a city under this chapter, the costs and expenses of the circuit court for the county, including jury costs, and the salaries of the judge and clerk of the circuit court and the clerk, attorney for the Commonwealth and sheriff of the county shall be borne by the city and county in the proportion that the population of each bears to the aggregate population of the city and county.

Such expenses and costs shall include stationery, furniture, books, office supplies and equipment for the court and clerk's office; supplies, repairs and alterations on the buildings used jointly by the city and county; and insurance, fuel, water, lights, etc., used in and about the buildings and the grounds thereto. The cost of any new building erected for the joint use of the city and county shall be provided for in like manner. However, in the case of buildings used jointly by the City of Covington and Alleghany County, no repairs or alterations shall be made to any such building, and no new building shall be erected without the approval of the governing body of both the city and the county. If such governing bodies cannot agree, relevant controversies shall be resolved in the manner provided by § 15.2-3829.

Code 1950, § 15-104; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1005; 1970, c. 143; 1997, c. 587; 2007, c. 813.

§ 15.2-3831. Registrars and their duties.

Upon its appointment, the electoral board for a city created under this chapter shall appoint a general registrar pursuant to § 24.2-110. The registration records of voters residing in the city shall be transferred, and the appropriate notice given, in accordance with § 24.2-114. At any time the books are not closed pursuant to § 24.2-416, any person residing in the city who has not registered shall be entitled to register and vote in the city if he would have been entitled to register and vote in the county.

Code 1950, § 15-105; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1006; 1997, c. 587; 2003, c. 1015.

§ 15.2-3832. Authority to city to provide by condemnation, etc., water, light, power and fuel.

In addition to the authority given by general law to cities, a city organized under this chapter may acquire in accordance with § 15.2-1800 or construct, own and operate, its own plant, machinery and equipment for supplying its inhabitants, streets, grounds, or buildings with water, light, power or fuel. To that end it may acquire any plant existing in or near the city; may acquire land and franchises outside of the limits of the city; and may buy, purchase or acquire easements and rights-of-way.

Code 1950, § 15-106; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1007; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3833. Chapter not applicable to cities already existing.

This chapter shall not affect the organization, government, officers, charter or laws governing any city declared to be such prior to January 1, 1976, under former acts of the General Assembly. Statutes under which cities declared to be such prior to January 1, 1976, were organized as cities shall continue in force.

Code 1950, § 15-108; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1009; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3834. Congressional, etc., districts and judicial circuit not changed.

Any city created under this chapter shall continue to be and remain a part of the congressional, senatorial and legislative districts, respectively, and of the judicial circuit wherein such city is geographically located.

Code 1950, § 15-109; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1010; 1997, c. 587.

Chapter 39. Transition of Counties to Cities.

§ 15.2-3900. Transition authorized.

Any county in this Commonwealth may become an independent city by complying with the requirements and procedures set forth in this chapter.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3901. Ordinance petitioning court to declare eligibility.

The governing body of any county may, by ordinance passed by a recorded majority vote of all the members thereof, petition the circuit court for the county, alleging that the county meets the criteria set out in § 15.2-3907, for an order declaring the county eligible for city status. The circuit court with which the petition is filed shall notify the Supreme Court, which shall appoint a special court to hear the case as prescribed by Chapter 30 (§ 15.2-3000 et seq.) of this title.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.2; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3902. Moratorium on annexation suits pending transition to city.

Any annexation suit filed against a county on or after the day the county's petition for city status is filed in the circuit court shall be stayed pending the special court's order denying eligibility for city status or the election ordered on the proposed city charter, whichever occurs. If the voters approve the city charter, all annexation suits stayed pending the outcome of the election shall be dismissed. If the voters disapprove the city charter, all pending stays shall be dissolved.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.2:1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3903. Notice of motion; service and publication; answer.

At least thirty days before instituting a proceeding under the provisions of this chapter, a county shall serve notice on the attorney for the Commonwealth, or on the city or county attorney, if there is one, and on the chairman of the board of supervisors of each adjoining county and the mayor of each city and town within the county instituting proceedings that it will, on a given day, petition the circuit court for an order declaring the county eligible for city status. The notice served on each official shall include a certified copy of the ordinance. A copy of the notice and ordinance, or a descriptive summary of the notice and ordinance and a reference to the place within the county where copies of the notice and ordinance may be examined, shall be published at least once a week for four successive weeks in some newspaper having general circulation in the county seeking eligibility for city status. The notice and ordinance shall be returned after service to the clerk of the circuit court. Certification from the owner, editor or manager of the newspaper publishing the notice and ordinance shall be proof of publication.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.3; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3904. Parties.

In any proceedings instituted under the provisions of this chapter, any voter or property owner or person having an interest in the county may by petition become a party to the proceedings. Any locality having a common boundary or other person affected by the proceedings may appear and shall be made a party to the case.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.5; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3905. Time limit for intervenors; publication of order.

The special court shall by order fix a time within which a voter, property owner, person having an interest, or locality not served may become a party to proceedings instituted under this chapter, and thereafter no such petition shall be received, except for good cause shown. A copy of the order shall be published at least once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper or newspapers of general circulation in the county and in the adjoining or adjacent counties and cities.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.6; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3906. Pretrial conference; matters considered.

The special court shall, prior to hearing any case under this chapter, direct the attorneys for the parties to appear before it, or in its discretion before a single judge, for a conference to consider:

1. Simplification of the issues;

2. Amendment of pleadings and filing of additional pleadings;

3. Stipulations as to facts, documents, records, photographs, plans and like matters, which will dispense with formal proof thereof, including:

a. Assessed values, if appropriate, and the ratio of assessed values to true values, as determined by the State Department of Taxation, in the county seeking to become a city, including real property, personal property, machinery and tools, merchants' capital and public service corporation assessment for each year of the five years immediately preceding;

b. School population and school enrollment in the county, as shown by the records in the office of the division superintendent of schools; and the cost of education per pupil in average daily membership as shown by the last preceding report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction;

c. Population of the county and its population density;

4. The method of taking any population census requested by the petitioner;

5. Limitation on the number of expert witnesses; each expert witness who will testify shall file a statement of his qualifications;

6. Such other matters as may aid in the disposition of the case.

The court, or the judge, as the case may be, shall make an appropriate order which will control the subsequent conduct of the case unless modified before or during the trial or hearing to prevent manifest injustice.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.8; 1997, c. 587; 2010, cc. 386, 629.

§ 15.2-3907. Hearing and decision by court.

A. The special court shall order an election to determine if the voters of the county desire the General Assembly to grant the county a municipal charter if, after hearing the evidence, it finds that:

1. The county possesses at the time of the filing of the petition a minimum population of 20,000 persons and a density of population of at least 300 persons per square mile, or a minimum population of 50,000 persons and a density of population of at least 140 persons per square mile, based either on the latest United States census, on the latest estimates of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service of the University of Virginia, or on a special census conducted under court supervision; and

2. The county has the fiscal capacity to function as an independent city and to provide appropriate services; and

3. After a consideration of the best interests of the parties, the interest of the Commonwealth in the county's compliance with and promotion of applicable State policies with respect to environmental protection, public planning, education, public transportation, housing and other State service policies declared by the General Assembly, and the interest of the Commonwealth in promoting strong and viable units of government in the area, the county is eligible for city status.

B. An election held pursuant to this section shall comply with §§ 24.2-682 and 24.2-684. The order for election shall allow sufficient time for the preparation of a charter as hereafter provided for in this chapter. Such election shall be held no earlier than 180 days and no later than 300 days subsequent to the entry of the order of election.

C. The court shall be limited in its decision to granting or denying eligibility for city status and shall have no authority to impose terms or conditions with respect to such eligibility.

D. If a majority of the court is of the opinion that the criteria set out in subsection A have not been met, then eligibility for city status shall be denied.

E. The court shall render a written opinion in every case brought under the provisions of this chapter.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.9; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3908. Assistance of state agencies.

The special court may, in its discretion, direct any appropriate state agency, in addition to the Commission on Local Government, to gather and present evidence, including statistical data and exhibits, for the court, subject to the usual rules of evidence. The court shall determine the actual expense of preparing such evidence and shall tax such expense as costs in the case; the costs shall be paid by the clerk into the general fund of the state treasury, and credited to the agency furnishing the evidence.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.10; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3909. Appeals.

Appeals may be granted by the Supreme Court of Virginia as provided in §§ 15.2-3221 and 15.2-3222, which shall apply mutatis mutandis.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.11; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3910. Charter commission; appointment; compensation.

Upon entry of the order provided in subsection A of § 15.2-3907, the governing body of the county shall appoint a charter commission, composed of not less than seven persons, to assist it in the preparation of a charter and form of government for the new city. The governing body shall fix the compensation of members of the charter commission, the amount of which shall be subject to approval by the circuit court for the county.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.12; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3911. Charter provisions generally.

The charter shall provide for the orderly transition from a county form of government to a city form, for the assumption by the new city of the debt and contractual obligations of the former county and of all towns formerly located therein, and for the transfer of all assets from such county and towns to the new city. The city charter shall recognize any townships which may be created pursuant to § 15.2-3916, and where such townships are created, they shall assume the assets and debts of the towns they succeed. However, the city charter shall provide that all or part of the revenues of a township, the services it performs, its facilities, other assets, and debts may be transferred to the city by agreement of the governing bodies. The provisions of the charter with respect to elected officials shall conform to the applicable requirements of the Constitution of Virginia. The charter may also provide that the new city may continue any agreements or arrangements undertaken under other provisions of law for the joint support of officials, facilities, and services that exist on the effective date of the city charter. Such charter shall become effective on July 1 in the year of enactment by the General Assembly.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.13; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3912. Optional charter provisions.

Any charter adopted pursuant to this chapter may include any of the following provisions:

1. The rate of tax on real property in any territory which is a part of the proposed city shall be lower than in other territory of the proposed city for a period of five years, provided that any difference between such rates of taxation shall bear a reasonable relationship to differences in nonrevenue-producing governmental services giving land urban character which are furnished in such territories.

2. A special tax may be levied on real property for a period not exceeding twenty years in any area specified in the charter. The special tax may be different from and in addition to the general tax rate throughout the entire city and shall be for the purpose of repaying existing indebtedness chargeable to such area prior to the county becoming a city.

3. There shall be a new election of officers for the city whose election and qualification shall terminate the terms of office of the officers of the former county. However, no new election need be held for offices required to be continued by the Constitution, nor for any other office for which a new election is deemed unnecessary.

4. The tax rate on all property of the same class within the city shall be uniform. However, the governing body of the city shall have power to levy a higher tax in such areas of the city that desire additional or more complete services of government than are desired in the city as a whole. The proceeds of the higher tax shall be segregated and expended in the areas in which raised. Such higher tax rate shall not be levied for school, police or general government services but only for those services which prior to the transition were not offered in the whole of the former county.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.13:1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3913. Public hearing on charter; notice and publication; adoption of charter by governing body.

Upon the completion of the proposed charter the governing body shall hold a public hearing at which the citizens shall have an opportunity to be heard with respect thereto. Notice of the time and place of such hearing and the text of the charter, or an informative summary thereof, shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county at least once a week for two successive weeks. The hearing shall not be held sooner than thirty days subsequent to the first publication. Such hearing may be adjourned from time to time, but shall be completed not less than thirty days before the election. Upon completion of the hearing the governing body shall adopt the charter with such revisions as it may accept.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.14; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3914. Rejection or adoption of charter at election.

If the proposed charter is not adopted by a majority of those voting in the election, an order shall be entered of record accordingly, and no other election for any change in the county form of government shall be held within three years after the date of the election. If the proposed charter is adopted by a majority of those voting in the election, the special court shall enter an order accordingly, a copy of which shall be forthwith certified to the Secretary of the Commonwealth, and two copies, in the form of a proposed bill to grant the charter, shall be certified to one or more members of the General Assembly representing the county for introduction as a bill in the General Assembly.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.15; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3915. Transition of county to independent city requires no action of town council.

A county may become an independent city in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this chapter without the necessity of any action being taken by the council of any town situated in such county and without the necessity of separate referenda in any such town on the question of the transition of the county to a city.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.16; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3916. Creation of townships; effect on town charters; right of certain townships to obtain city status.

A. Each town located within any county which becomes a city pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall automatically continue as a township within the city, and the charter of each such town shall become the charter of the township with the law governing the relationship of the town to the county continuing in effect. Such townships established pursuant to this subsection shall continue to exercise such powers and elect such officers as the township charter may authorize and such other powers as the former town previously exercised under general law. However, no township shall exercise the authority granted towns by Chapter 38 (§ 15.2-3800 et seq.) of this title or by Article 1 (§ 15.2-3200 et seq.) of Chapter 32 of this title, or any extraterritorial authority granted towns by Chapter 22 (§ 15.2-2200 et seq.) of this title. Townships shall receive from the Commonwealth financial assistance in the same manner and to the same extent as is provided towns. However, a township may transfer all or part of the revenues it receives, the services it performs, its facilities, other assets, and debts to the city by agreement of the governing bodies.

B. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A of this section, any town which in 1979 possessed a population in excess of 5,000 persons and was situated within a county possessing a population of 20,000 or more persons and a density of population of 300 or more persons per square mile, or a minimum population of 50,000 persons and a density of population of at least 140 persons per square mile, based on the United States census, on population estimates of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service of the University of Virginia, or on a special census conducted under court supervision, shall retain as a township the right to obtain city status. Where such township seeks to become a city under the authority granted by this subsection and in accordance with § 15.2-3801 et seq., the special court shall be limited in its review, as provided in § 15.2-3809, to a determination of the township's population and population density. Where the court determines that such township has a population of at least 5,000 persons and a density of at least 200 persons per square mile, it shall enter an order granting the township city status.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.17; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3917. Certain cities not affected by chapter.

This chapter shall in no way affect the organization, government, officers, charter or laws governing any city declared to be such prior to July 1, 1978.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.18; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3918. Optional status of streets.

Any city formed under the provisions of this chapter may, by ordinance, elect to continue receiving, for a period not to exceed ten years from the date of the granting of a city charter, the full services of the Department of Transportation in the same manner and to the same extent such services were rendered prior to such city being formed. Upon the passage of such ordinance, funds for the maintenance, construction or reconstruction of streets within the areas formerly a county shall continue to be allocated as if such areas were still in a county and the city shall not receive funds for maintenance, construction or reconstruction of streets in those areas during the period the Department of Transportation furnishes such services. In those areas where the Department provides the above services, the governing body of the city shall have control over the streets and highways to the same extent as was formerly vested in the governing body of the county. At any time prior to the expiration of the ten-year period, the governing body may elect, by ordinance, to place its streets, or a portion of them, in the urban system of highways and shall receive funds as provided by law for all cities.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.18:1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3919. Legislative, etc., district and judicial circuit not affected.

Any city formed under the provisions of this chapter shall be and remain a part of the congressional, senatorial and legislative districts, respectively, and of the judicial circuit in which, as a county, it was geographically located, unless otherwise changed by general law.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.19; 1997, c. 587.

Chapter 40. Judicial Determination of City Status.

§ 15.2-4000. Enjoyment of city status until requirements of chapter fulfilled.

A city which no longer qualifies for city status under Article VII, Section 1 of the Constitution of Virginia shall change to town status under the provisions of this chapter. Until the court enters an order under § 15.2-4004 for such change, a city shall enjoy all the rights and obligations of city status.

1971, Ex. Sess., c. 140, § 15.1-965.1; 1988, c. 881; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4001. Investigation by Commission on Local Government; certification of findings to governing body.

If it appears from the most recent United States census that a city may not meet the requirements for city status under Article VII, Section 1 of the Constitution of Virginia, the Commission on Local Government shall commence an investigation of the population, assets, liabilities, rights and obligations of such city and certify the findings to the governing body.

1971, Ex. Sess., c. 140, § 15.1-965.2; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4002. Report from Commission to be certified to circuit court; appointment of special court.

When the governing body of any city receives a report compiled pursuant to § 15.2-4001 from the Commission on Local Government concluding that the city does not meet the requirements for city status under Article VII, Section 1 of the Constitution of Virginia, it shall petition the circuit court for the city for a determination of city status. All adjoining counties shall be given notice of the petition.

The circuit court with which the petition is filed shall notify the Supreme Court, which shall appoint a special court to hear the case as prescribed by Chapter 30 (§ 15.2-3000 et seq.) of this title.

1971, Ex. Sess., c. 140, § 15.1-965.3; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4003. Investigation by special court; public hearing.

A special court appointed pursuant to this chapter shall investigate all matters contained in the report certified to the court under § 15.2-4002, and any other matters it deems pertinent to the purpose of the inquiry. The court shall fix a time and place for a public hearing on such report.

1971, Ex. Sess., c. 140, § 15.1-965.6; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4004. Determination of city status.

If the special court determines that the city no longer qualifies for city status, it shall enter an order changing the city to a town. The court shall have authority to impose such terms and conditions as it deems appropriate to ensure an orderly transition from city status to town status.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4005. Effect when city becomes town; officers.

When a city becomes a town under the provisions of this chapter, its ordinances shall become the ordinances of the town, insofar as they are applicable and consistent with law, until they are repealed, and the existence of such city as an independent city of the Commonwealth shall terminate, as shall the terms of office and the rights, powers, duties and compensation of its constitutional officers and their deputies and employees. All officers, agents and employees of the city, including the mayor and the members of city council, shall continue to serve as the officers, agents and employees of the town, until they are terminated as provided by law, or in the case of the mayor and members of council, until their successors are elected or appointed. The court shall order an election to be held pursuant to § 24.2-682 not less than thirty nor more than 180 days after the date of the court order granting town status, but at least thirty days before the effective date of the transition from city to town status, at which election the town council and other elected officers of the town shall be selected. The terms of such officers shall commence on the day the transition from city to town status becomes effective and shall continue, unless otherwise removed, until their successors have been elected and assume office. The successors or all such officers whose first election is herein provided for shall thereafter be elected at the time, in the manner and for the terms provided by general law.

1997, c. 587.

Chapter 41. Transition of City to Town Status.

§ 15.2-4100. City may change to town status.

A city may change to town status in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

1988, c. 881, § 15.1-965.9; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4101. Ordinance petitioning court for town status; notice of motion.

A. Any city in this Commonwealth with a population at the time of the latest United States decennial census of less than 50,000 people, after fulfilling the requirements of Chapter 29 (§ 15.2-2900 et seq.), may by ordinance passed by a recorded majority vote of all the members thereof, petition the circuit court for the city, alleging that the city meets the criteria set out in § 15.2-4106 for an order granting town status to the city. The circuit court with which the petition is filed shall notify the Supreme Court, which shall appoint a special court to hear the case as prescribed by Chapter 30 (§ 15.2-3000 et seq.) of this title.

B. Before instituting a proceeding under this chapter for a grant of town status, a city shall serve notice on the county attorney, or if there is none, on the attorney for the Commonwealth, and on the chairman of the board of supervisors of the adjoining county that it will, on a given day, petition the circuit court for a grant of town status. The notice served on each official shall include a certified copy of the ordinance. A copy of the notice and ordinance, or a descriptive summary of the notice and ordinance and a reference to the place within the city or adjoining county where copies of the notice and ordinance may be examined, shall be published at least once a week for four successive weeks in some newspaper having general circulation in the city and adjoining county. The notice and ordinance shall be returned after service to the clerk of the circuit court. Certification by the owner, editor or manager of the newspaper publishing the notice and ordinance shall be proof of publication.

1988, c. 881, §§ 15.1-965.10, 15.1-965.11; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4102. Citizen petition for town status.

Voters equal in number to fifteen percent or more of the registered voters of the city as of January 1 of the year in which the petition is filed may petition the circuit court for the city, stating that it is desirable that such city make the transition to town status. All of the signatures on the petition shall have been made and filed within a twelve-month period. A copy of the petition shall be served on the city attorney and the county attorney, or if there is none, on the attorney for the Commonwealth for the county and on the mayor of the city and the chairman of the board of supervisors of the adjoining counties. A copy of the petition shall be published at least once a week for four successive weeks in a newspaper having general circulation in the city and the adjoining county. The case shall proceed in all respects as though instituted in the manner prescribed in § 15.2-4101, and the court shall forthwith refer the petition to the Commission on Local Government for review pursuant to Chapter 29 (§ 15.2-2900 et seq.).

1988, c. 881, § 15.1-965.10; 1997, cc. 178, 587.

§ 15.2-4103. Parties.

In any proceedings instituted under the provisions of this chapter, the adjoining county shall be made party to the case. Any qualified voter or property owner of the city or adjoining county may by petition become party to the proceedings.

1988, c. 881, § 15.1-965.12; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4104. Time limit for intervenors; publication of order.

The special court shall by order fix a time within which a qualified voter, property owner, political subdivision, or other interested party not served may become a party to proceedings instituted under this chapter, and thereafter no such petition shall be received except for good cause shown. A copy of the order shall be published at least once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the city and county.

1988, c. 881, § 15.1-965.13; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4105. Pretrial conference; matters considered.

The special court shall, prior to hearing any case under this chapter, direct the attorneys for the parties to appear before it or, in its discretion, before a single judge, for a conference to consider:

1. Simplification of the issues;

2. Amendment of pleadings and filing of additional pleadings;

3. Stipulations as to facts, documents, records, photographs, plans and like matters, which will dispense with formal proof thereof, including:

a. Assessed values and the ratio of assessed values to true values, as determined by the State Department of Taxation, in the city seeking to become a town and in the county including real property, personal property, machinery and tools, merchants' capital and public service corporation assessment for each year of the five years immediately preceding;

b. School population and school enrollment in the city seeking to become a town and in the county, as shown by the records in the office of the division superintendent of schools; and cost of education per pupil in average daily membership, as shown by the last preceding report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction;

c. Population and population density of the city seeking to become a town and of the county;

4. Long-term and short-term indebtedness of both the city and the county;

5. Limitation or expansion of pretrial discovery procedures;

6. Limitation of the number of expert witnesses; each expert witness who will testify shall file a statement of his qualifications;

7. Such other matters as may aid in the disposition of the case.

The court, or the judge, as the case may be, shall make an appropriate order which will control the subsequent conduct of the case unless modified for good cause before or during the trial or hearing.

1988, c. 881, § 15.1-965.15; 1997, c. 587; 2010, cc. 386, 629.

§ 15.2-4106. Hearing and decision by court.

A. The special court shall enter an order granting town status if, after hearing the evidence, the court finds that:

1. The city has a current population of less than 50,000 people;

2. The adjoining county or counties have been made party defendants to the proceedings;

3. The proposed change from city to town status will not substantially impair the ability of the adjoining county in which the town will be located to meet the service needs of its population;

4. The proposed change from city to town status will not result in a substantially inequitable sharing of the resources and liabilities of the town and the county;

5. The proposed change from city to town status is, in the balance of equities, in the best interests of the city, the county, the Commonwealth, and the people of the county and the city; and

6. The proposed change from city status to town status is in the best interests of the Commonwealth in promoting strong and viable units of government.

B. The court shall have authority to impose such terms and conditions as it deems appropriate to:

1. Ensure an orderly transition from city status to town status;

2. Adjust financial inequities;

3. Balance the equities between the parties; and

4. Ensure protection of the best interests of the city, the county, the Commonwealth, and the people of the county and the city.

C. The court shall render a written opinion in every case brought under the provisions of this chapter.

D. In the event the court enters an order declaring the city eligible for town status, a copy of the order shall be certified to the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

1988, c. 881, § 15.1-965.16; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4107. Assistance of state agencies.

The special court may, in its discretion, direct any appropriate state agency, in addition to the Commission on Local Government, to gather and present evidence, including statistical data and exhibits, for the court, to be subject to the usual rules of evidence. The court may determine the actual expense of preparing such evidence and may tax such expense as costs in the case; the costs, if so taxed, shall be paid by the clerk into the general fund of the state treasury, and credited to the agency furnishing the evidence.

1988, c. 881, § 15.1-965.17; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4108. Appeals.

Appeals may be granted by the Supreme Court of Virginia as provided in §§ 15.2-3221 and 15.2-3222, which shall apply mutatis mutandis.

1988, c. 881, § 15.1-965.18; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4109. Declining a grant of town status.

In any proceedings brought under the provisions of this chapter, the governing body of the city, may, by ordinance or resolution, decline to accept eligibility for town status on the terms and conditions imposed by the special court at any time prior to twenty-one days after entry of an order granting eligibility for town status, or within twenty-one days after denial of a petition for appeal or within twenty-one days after the entry of the mandate in an appeal which has been granted.

1988, c. 881, § 15.1-965.19; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4110. Proceedings final for five years.

In the event the special court determines the city to be ineligible for town status or in the event that town status is declined under the provisions of § 15.2-4109, no subsequent proceedings shall be brought under the provisions of this chapter within five years of the date of the final order.

1988, c. 881, § 15.1-965.20; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4111. Effective date of transition.

The special court in its order granting town status shall specify the effective date of transition from city status to town status, but in no event shall such date be sooner than six months from the date of the court order.

1988, c. 881, § 15.1-965.21; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4112. Charter for resulting town.

A. If a proposed charter for the resulting town has been approved by the General Assembly for adoption pending order of the special court pursuant to this chapter, such proposed charter shall be the charter of the town upon approval of the transition from city to town status.

B. If no such proposed charter for the resulting town has been approved by the General Assembly, the court shall enter an order conforming the city charter to a town charter, which shall be the charter of the town until a new charter is granted by the General Assembly.

1988, c. 881, § 15.1-965.22; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4113. Restriction on subsequent change in status.

Notwithstanding any contrary provision of law, general or special, a town created under this chapter shall not return to its previous independent city status.

1996, cc. 337, 349, § 15.1-965.22:1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4114. Liabilities and assets of such city.

Unless otherwise provided by agreement of the governing bodies of the city and county, or by order of the special court pursuant to § 15.2-4106, a town created under this chapter shall remain liable for all of the bonded indebtedness, current debts, obligations, and liabilities if incurred as a city. Unless otherwise provided by agreement of the governing bodies of the city and county, or by order of the court pursuant to § 15.2-4106, the title to all of the real and personal property of the former city and all of its rights and privileges under any contract, and all of its books, records, papers and other things of value, shall vest in and become the property of the town.

1988, c. 881, § 15.1-965.23; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4115. Effect when city becomes town; officers.

When a city becomes a town under the provisions of this chapter, its ordinances shall become the ordinances of the town, insofar as they are applicable, and consistent with law, until they are repealed, and the existence of such city as an independent city of the Commonwealth shall terminate, as shall the terms of office and the rights, powers, duties and compensation of its constitutional officers and their deputies and employees. All officers, agents and employees of the city, including the mayor and the members of city council, shall continue to serve as the officers, agents and employees of the town, until their positions or offices are terminated as provided by law, or in the case of the mayor and members of council, until their successors are elected or appointed. The circuit court shall order an election to be held pursuant to § 24.2-682 not less than thirty nor more than 180 days after the date of the special court order granting town status, but at least thirty days before the effective date of the transition from city to town status, at which election the town council and other elected officers of the town shall be selected. The terms of such officers shall commence on the day the transition from city to town status becomes effective and shall continue, unless otherwise removed, until their successors have been elected and assume office. The successors or all such officers whose first election is herein provided for shall thereafter be elected at the time, in the manner and for the terms provided by general law.

1988, c. 881, § 15.1-965.24; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4116. Library aid continued.

In any transition under the provisions of this chapter, if a regional library system existed between a former city and the county surrounding it, or if the former city continues to operate an independent library, the Commonwealth shall continue state aid to the former regional library system or independent library the same as if no transition had occurred.

1991, c. 189, § 15.1-965.24:1; 1994, c. 775; 1997, c. 587; 2009, c. 483; 2013, c. 363.

§ 15.2-4117. Temporary restriction on annexation.

For a period of two years from the effective date of a court order granting town status to a city making the transition from city status to town status, the town shall not file an annexation notice with the Commission on Local Government pursuant to § 15.2-2907, nor shall it institute an annexation court action against any county. However, the foregoing shall not prohibit the institution of nor require the stay of an annexation proceeding or the filing of an annexation notice for the purpose of implementing an annexation agreement, provided that the extent, terms and conditions of such agreement have been agreed upon by the governing bodies of the county and the town.

1996, cc. 641, 649, § 15.1-965.24:2; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4118. Effect on pending suits.

If at the time a city becomes a town under the provisions of this chapter there are any pending actions or proceedings by or against the city, or if after a city becomes a town under the provisions of this chapter an action or proceeding out of a cause of action which arose prior to the time the city became a town, which but for said transition would have been by or against the city, is instituted, the resulting town shall be substituted in place of the city and the action or proceeding may be perfected to judgment.

1988, c. 881, § 15.1-965.25; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-4119. Effect on jurisdiction of courts.

Upon the effective date of the transition from city to town status, all criminal prosecutions then pending therein, whether by indictment, warrant or other complaint, and all suits, actions, motions, warrants, and other proceedings of a civil nature, with all the records of the courts of the city, shall stand ipso facto removed to the courts of concurrent or like jurisdiction of the appropriate county. The circuit and other courts having courthouses and records in and jurisdiction over the city shall, at some convenient time, as closely preceding the period of removal as practicable, by formal orders entered of record, direct the removal of all such causes and proceedings, civil and criminal, to the court or courts of concurrent or like jurisdiction of the county. The clerk of the court or courts to which the causes and proceedings have been removed shall thereupon proceed as in other cases of removal or changes of venue and such matters shall be docketed and handled as though initially filed in such court or courts. At the same time such clerk or clerks shall also deliver to the proper clerk or clerks of the county all the deed books, order or minute books, execution dockets, judgment dockets and other records of his office, of whatever kind or nature. The clerk or clerks of the court or courts to which the records are removed shall take charge of and preserve the records for reference and use in the same manner and with the same effect as though they were original records of his office.

1988, c. 881, § 15.1-965.26; 1997, c. 587; 2005, c. 681.

§ 15.2-4120. Court granting transition to town status to exist for ten years.

A. The special court created pursuant to § 15.2-4101 shall not be dissolved after rendering a decision granting any motion or petition for transition to town status, but shall remain in existence for a period of ten years from the effective date of any transition order entered, or from the date of any decision of the Supreme Court affirming such an order. Vacancies occurring in the court during such ten-year period shall be filled by designation of another judge from the panel provided for in Chapter 30 (§ 15.2-3000 et seq.) of this title.

B. The court may be reconvened at any time during the ten-year period on its own motion, or on motion of the governing body of the county, or of the town, or on petition of not less than fifteen percent of the registered voters of the town.

C. The court shall have power and it shall be its duty, at any time during such period, to enforce the performance of the terms and conditions under which town status was granted, and to issue appropriate process to compel such performance. The court may, in its discretion, award attorneys' fees, court and other reasonable costs to the party or parties on whose motion the court is reconvened.

D. Any such action of the court shall be subject to review by the Supreme Court in the same manner as is provided with respect to the original decision of the court.

1988, c. 881, § 15.1-965.27; 1997, c. 587.

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