Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 33.2. Highways and Other Surface Transportation Systems
Chapter 9. Abandonment and Discontinuance of Highways and Roads
11/30/2022

Article 3. Abandonment of Roads Not in Primary or Secondary State Highway System.

§ 33.2-914. County roads not part of primary or secondary state highway system; definitions.

A. The provisions of this article shall apply mutatis mutandis to county roads maintained by a county and not part of the secondary state highway system and to roads dedicated to public use but that are not part of the primary or secondary state highway system.

B. For the purposes of this article:

"Governing body" means the governing body of a county.

"Road" includes streets and alleys dedicated to public use and any existing crossing by the lines of a railroad company of such road and a railroad crossing by such road of the lines of a railroad company.

Code 1950, § 33-76.13; 1950, p. 734; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-156; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-915. Abandonment of certain roads and railroad crossings by governing body.

A. When a section of a road not in the secondary state highway system, or an existing crossing by such road of the lines of a railroad company or a crossing by the lines of a railroad company of such road, is deemed by the governing body in which it is located to be no longer necessary for public use, the governing body may abandon such section of the road or such crossing by proceeding as prescribed in this article.

B. In considering the abandonment of any section of road under the provisions of this section, due consideration shall be given to the historic value, if any, of such road.

Code 1950, § 33-76.14; 1950, p. 734; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-157; 1978, c. 616; 1980, c. 39; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-916. Notice of proposed abandonment.

In the case of a proposed abandonment of a road not part of the primary or secondary state highway system, the governing body shall give at least 30 days' notice of its intention to do so by posting notice at the front door of the courthouse, by posting notices on at least three places along and visible from the road proposed to be abandoned, and by publishing notice in at least two issues in a newspaper having general circulation in the county. All such notices shall state the time and place at which the governing body will meet to consider the abandonment of such road.

Code 1950, § 33-76.15; 1950, p. 734; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-158; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-917. Petition for abandonment.

Any person desiring to have a road abandoned may petition the governing body to abandon such road by filing the petition and a reasonably accurate plat and description of the section proposed to be abandoned with the governing body and in the clerk's office of the county. The governing body may proceed to have such road abandoned as provided in this article, but the expenses shall be borne by the petitioner.

Code 1950, § 33-76.16; 1950, p. 735; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-159; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-918. Petition for public hearing on proposed abandonment.

If one or more landowners affected by a proposed abandonment file a petition for a public hearing with the governing body within 30 days after notice is posted and published, the governing body shall hold a public hearing in the county for the consideration of the proposed abandonment.

Code 1950, § 33-76.17; 1950, p. 735; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-160; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-919. Action of governing body.

If a petition for a public hearing is not filed as provided in § 33.2-918, or if after a public hearing is held the governing body is satisfied that no public necessity exists for the continuance of the section of road as a public road or the railroad crossing as a public railroad crossing or that the welfare of the public would be served best by abandoning the section of road or the railroad crossing as a public road or public railroad crossing, the governing body shall (i) within four months of the 30-day period during which notice was posted where no petition for a public hearing was filed or (ii) within four months after the public hearing adopt an ordinance or resolution abandoning the section of road as a public road or the railroad crossing as a public railroad crossing, and with that ordinance or resolution the section of road shall cease to be a public road. If the governing body is not so satisfied, it shall dismiss the application within the applicable four months provided in this section.

Code 1950, § 33-76.18; 1950, p. 735; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-161; 1978, c. 187; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-920. Appeal to circuit court.

Any one or more of the landowners who filed a petition or the governing body may within 30 days from the action of the governing body on the proposal appeal from the action of the governing body to the circuit court of the county. Where the governing body fails to adopt an ordinance or resolution pursuant to § 33.2-919, such person named in this section shall within 30 days from such failure have a right of appeal to the appropriate circuit court. Such appeal shall be filed by petition in the clerk's office of such court, setting out the action or inaction appealed from and the grounds for appeal. Upon the filing of such petition, the clerk of the circuit court shall docket the appeal, giving it a preferred status, and if the appeal is by any of the landowners who filed a petition with the governing body for a public hearing, notice of such appeal shall be served upon the attorney for the Commonwealth and the governing body. No such appeal shall be tried by the court within 10 days after notice is given as provided in this section unless such notice is waived. The circuit court shall hear the matter de novo with further right of appeal as provided by law. The court may appoint viewers to make such investigation and findings as the court requires of them. Upon the hearing of the appeal, the court shall ascertain and by its order determine whether public necessity exists for the continuance of the section of road or the railroad crossing as a public road or public railroad crossing or whether the welfare of the public will be served best by abandoning the section of the road or the railroad crossing as a public road or public railroad crossing and shall enter its order accordingly.

Upon any such appeal, if it appears to the court that by the abandonment of such section of road or such railroad crossing as a public road or public railroad crossing any party to such appeal would be deprived of access to a public road, the court may cause the railroad company and the governing body, or either, to be made parties to the proceedings, if not already parties, and may enter such orders as seem just and proper for keeping open such section of road or such railroad crossing for the benefit of such party or parties.

Code 1950, § 33-76.19; 1950, p. 735; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-162; 1978, c. 187; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-921. Effect of abandonment.

In the case of the abandonment of any section of road or any railroad crossing under the provisions of this article, such section of road or such crossing shall cease to be a public road or public railroad crossing. However, any such abandonment shall be subject to the rights of owners of any public utility installations that have been previously erected therein.

Code 1950, § 33-76.20; 1950, p. 736; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-163; 1986, c. 12; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-922. Recordation of abandonment of roads, highways, or railroad crossings by counties.

A certified copy of any ordinance, resolution, or order abandoning a road, highway, or railroad crossing by a county adopted pursuant to Article 2 (§ 33.2-908 et seq.) or this article shall be recorded and indexed in the deed book in the name of the county as grantor or where record title to the underlying fee is not known shall be recorded in the office of the clerk of court in the county where such road, highway, or railroad crossing is located in the name of the county adopting such ordinance or resolution or entering such order.

1986, c. 631, § 33.1-163.1; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-923. Alternative procedure for abandonment of old road or crossing to extent of alteration.

When any road or any road containing a highway-rail grade crossing has been or is altered and a new road that serves the same users as the old road is constructed as a replacement and approved by the governing body, the old road or public crossing may be abandoned to the extent of such alteration, but no further, by an ordinance or resolution of the governing body declaring the old road or public crossing abandoned.

Code 1950, § 33-76.21; 1950, p. 736; 1952, c. 123; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-164; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-924. Conveying sections of roads or other property no longer necessary.

When any road abandoned as provided in this article is deemed by the governing body no longer necessary for the public use, the governing body shall so certify in its minutes and may authorize the sale and conveyance in the name of the county of a deed or deeds conveying such sections, either for consideration or in exchange for other lands that may be necessary for the uses of the county. However, before any such deed either for the sale or exchange of land is executed conveying any section of a road along which any person resides, the governing body shall give notice to the owner of the land upon which such person resides of the intention to convey the section of road, and if after a reasonable notice of such intention any such landowner so requests, the governing body shall order a hearing. If upon such hearing it is determined that such section of road should be kept open for the reasonable convenience of such landowner or the public, then such section of road shall not be conveyed. The action of the governing body under this section shall not be subject to § 15.2-1800.

Code 1950, § 33-76.22; 1950, p. 736; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-165; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-925. Alternative method of abandoning roads.

As an alternative to the procedure for abandonment prescribed by this article, a road may be abandoned in accordance with the procedure for vacations in subdivision 2 of § 15.2-2272. All abandonments of roads sought to be effected according to subsection (b) of former § 15.1-482 before July 1, 1990, are hereby validated notwithstanding any defects or deficiencies in the proceeding, provided that property rights that have vested subsequent to the attempted abandonment are not impaired by such validation. The manner of reversion shall not be affected by this section.

1990, c. 198, § 33.1-166.1; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-926. Chapter 20 of Title 15.2 not affected.

No provision of Articles 1 (§ 33.2-900 et seq.), 2 (§ 33.2-908 et seq.), or this article shall affect the provisions of Chapter 20 (§ 15.2-2000 et seq.) of Title 15.2.

Code 1950, § 33-76.24; 1950, p. 737; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-167; 2014, c. 805.