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2007 Official Opinions

Official opinions will be posted as they are issued, generally within 24 to 48 hours. Please check this page at regular intervals to determine whether additional opinions have been issued.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Official opinions represent the attorney general’s analysis of current law based on his thorough research of existing statutes, the Virginia and United States constitutions, and relevant court decisions.  They are not "rulings" and do not create new law, nor do they change existing law.  Creating and amending laws are the responsibility of the General Assembly, not the attorney general. 

Official opinions are legal advice, not personal opinions, and do not reflect the attorney general’s personal views about what the law should be.  Such advice is provided to ensure clients/the requester are in compliance with the law.  While the opinions may be given deference by the courts, they are not binding on the courts.

The official opinions issued by the attorney general are part of the duties of the office (see Code § 2.2-505). A person authorized by statute, such as the governor, a member of the General Assembly, a constitutional officer, or the head of a state agency, can ask the attorney general for an official opinion on the law. Members of the general public are not authorized to ask for opinions.

December

Opinion # Requestor Summary
07‑099 The Honorable Anna L. Fox 
Alleghany County Treasurer

Subsurface mineral lands constitute real estate, and treasurer may initiate judicial sale of such mineral lands charged with delinquent taxes. Procedure for judicial sale of subsurface mineral lands is not affected by separate ownership and payment of taxes for surface lands overlying minerals or where mineral owners are not Virginia residents.

     

 

 

 

 

 

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2008 Official Opinions

Official opinions will be posted as they are issued, generally within 24 to 48 hours. Please check this page at regular intervals to determine whether additional opinions have been issued.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Official opinions represent the attorney general’s analysis of current law based on his thorough research of existing statutes, the Virginia and United States constitutions, and relevant court decisions.  They are not "rulings" and do not create new law, nor do they change existing law.  Creating and amending laws are the responsibility of the General Assembly, not the attorney general. 

Official opinions are legal advice, not personal opinions, and do not reflect the attorney general’s personal views about what the law should be.  Such advice is provided to ensure clients/the requester are in compliance with the law.  While the opinions may be given deference by the courts, they are not binding on the courts.

The official opinions issued by the attorney general are part of the duties of the office (see Code § 2.2-505). A person authorized by statute, such as the governor, a member of the General Assembly, a constitutional officer, or the head of a state agency, can ask the attorney general for an official opinion on the law. Members of the general public are not authorized to ask for opinions.

December

Opinion # Requestor

Summary

08-106 The Honorable Dennis L. Hupp
Judge, Twenty-Sixth Judicial Circuit

Member of Town Council of Town of Front Royal elected as mayor vacated position as Town Council member upon taking oath of office and qualifying as mayor.

08-077 The Honorable Christopher K. Peace
Member, House of Delegates

No authority for Director of Department of Environmental Quality to issue technical assistance grants related to nutrient reduction without providing required notice, public review, and comment period.

08-068 The Honorable Patricia S. Ticer
Member, Senate of Virginia

Animal control officer may act to prevent act of cruelty upon any animal that occurs in his presence. Question of whether there is occurrence of act of cruelty is factual determination to be made by officer. Immunity for reasonable and good faith actions of animal control officer performed within scope of official duties.

08-087 The Honorable Lynwood W. Lewis, Jr.
Member, House of Delegates

Individuals holding public offices in town or serving on town’s board of historic review or board of building code appeals may be appointed to serve on that town’s wetlands board created pursuant to wetlands zoning ordinance.

08-092 The Honorable Clifford L. "Clay" Athey, Jr.
Member, House of Delegates

Authority under Front Royal Town Charter for Town Council to appoint individual to serve unexpired term of council member elected as mayor; no authority for Town Council to appoint such individual when vacancy has existed for more than forty-five days. Town Council may petition circuit court to issue writ of election to fill such vacancy. Individual appointed to serve such unexpired term is not elected member of Town Council as that term is used in Title 15.2.

08-073 Laurence A. Mann, Esq.
Attorney for the City of Lexington

Article VII, § 9 of Virginia Constitution and § 15.2‑2100 apply to request to reconfigure and relocate easement located within and owned by City of Lexington in perpetuity. Supermajority vote of City Council is necessary to approve transaction.

08-066 The Honorable Robert S. Wertz, Jr.
Loudoun County Commissioner of the Revenue

Distribution from retirement account deposited into another retirement account or investment account characterized as retirement account is not income for purposes of calculating income pursuant to tax relief program for elderly and disabled persons.

 

 

 

 

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2009 Official Opinions

Official opinions will be posted as they are issued, generally within 24 to 48 hours. Please check this page at regular intervals to determine whether additional opinions have been issued.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Official opinions represent the attorney general’s analysis of current law based on his thorough research of existing statutes, the Virginia and United States constitutions, and relevant court decisions.  They are not "rulings" and do not create new law, nor do they change existing law.  Creating and amending laws are the responsibility of the General Assembly, not the attorney general. 

Official opinions are legal advice, not personal opinions, and do not reflect the attorney general’s personal views about what the law should be.  Such advice is provided to ensure clients/the requester are in compliance with the law.  While the opinions may be given deference by the courts, they are not binding on the courts.

The official opinions issued by the attorney general are part of the duties of the office (see Code § 2.2-505). A person authorized by statute, such as the governor, a member of the General Assembly, a constitutional officer, or the head of a state agency, can ask the attorney general for an official opinion on the law. Members of the general public are not authorized to ask for opinions.

December

Opinion # Requestor Summary
09-086 Lucy E. Phillips, Esq.
Washington County Attorney

Authority for Virginia Highlands Airport Authority to exercise power of eminent domain to condemn trees in private cemetery to provide unobstructed airspace for purposes of air safety.

     
09-085 The Honorable Deborah F. Williams
Spotsylvania County Commissioner of the Revenue

Contiguous parcels of real estate, titled in same owner, may be combined to form tracts of at least twenty acres devoted to forest use and at least five acres devoted to agricultural use and are eligible for use value assessment. Parcel with mixed use may qualify for land use assessment provided each use acreage meets required minimum acreage.

     
09-080 The Honorable Mark C. Christie
Chairman, State Corporation Commission

Federal credit unions are exempt from tax on consumers of electricity imposed by § 58.1‑2900, including portion remitted to localities. Federally chartered credit union may be identified by its name, which is required to include words ‘Federal Credit Union.’

     
09-072 The Honorable John T. Frey
Fairfax Circuit Court Clerk

No statutory or equitable authority for court to affirm marriages that were not performed under license of marriage. Court may not direct circuit court clerk to issue marriage licenses retrospectively under these circumstances.

     

 

 

 

 

 

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2010 Official Opinions

Official opinions will be posted as they are issued, generally within 24 to 48 hours. Please check this page at regular intervals to determine whether additional opinions have been issued.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Official opinions represent the attorney general’s analysis of current law based on his thorough research of existing statutes, the Virginia and United States constitutions, and relevant court decisions.  Official opinions do not create new law, nor do they change existing law.  Creating and amending laws are the responsibility of the General Assembly, not the attorney general.  

Official opinions are legal advice, not personal opinions, and do not reflect the attorney general’s personal views about what the law should be.  Such advice is provided to ensure clients/the requester are in compliance with the law.  While the opinions may be given deference by the courts, they are not binding on the courts.

The official opinions issued by the attorney general are part of the duties of the office (see Code § 2.2-505).  A person authorized by statute, such as the governor, a member of the General Assembly, a constitutional officer, or the head of a state agency, can ask the attorney general for an official opinion on the law. Members of the general public are not authorized to ask for opinions.

December

Opinion # Requestor Summary
10-094 The Honorable Deborah F. Williams
Commissioner of the Revenue
Spotsylvania County
A county commissioner of the revenue's "certification" of a correction of a local tax assessment for purposes of § 58.1-3981(A) means that the commissioner should provide written verification that he has determined that the original local tax assessment paid by the affected taxpayer was erroneous. Further, § 58.1-3(A)(2) authorizes a county commissioner of the revenue to supply to the attorney for his county any information that is necessary to enable the attorney to make an informed decision as to whether to consent to the commissioner of the revenue's determination. Finally, a county attorney's consent to a reduction of a real estate tax assessment by a county board of equalization is not a prerequisite to the county's issuance of a refund of excess taxes.
     
10-042 The Honorable Thomas A. Hazelwood
Commissioner of the Revenue
City of Suffolk
In the City of Suffolk, the devolution of the Commissioner of the Revenue's duties with respect to the assessment of real estate to a city real estate assessor transfers to the assessor the Commissioner's responsibility under § 58.l-3984(B) to the extent § 58.1-3984(B) applies to assessments of real property.
     
10-076 C. Eric Young, Esquire
Tazewell County Attorney
A County is not required to enforce the Property Maintenance Code portion of the Uniform Statewide Building Code in a town with a population of less than 3,500, where the town has adopted the Property Maintenance Code but has not appointed, nor contracted with, an official to enforce the Uniform Statewide Building Code.
     
10-118 The Honorable Terry G. Kilgore
Member, House of Delegates
A school board is solely responsible for the decision whether and how to consolidate schools, and a county board of supervisors may not instruct the school board to consolidate schools or how to consolidate schools.
     
10-103 Ms. Karen A. Gould, Executive Director
Virginia State Bar
Conduct permitted under the proposed amendment to lawyer referral rules would violate the statute because the amendment would implicate both the person working for the lawyer under § 54.1-3939 and the lawyer if he engages in reciprocal referrals with another lawyer, which would make them both runners and cappers under § 54.1-3941.
     
10-061 The Honorable Stephen H. Martin
Member, Senate of Virginia

A Virginia locality cannot require an owner to obtain a special exception to a local zoning ordinance in order to install an alternative onsite sewage system if the conditions set forth in § 15.2-2157(C) exist, namely that (i) there is no sewer or sewerage disposal facility available and (ii) the alternative onsite sewage system has been approved by the Virginia Department of Health for use in the particular circumstances and conditions in which the proposed system is to be operating.

10-053 Michael M. Collins, County Attorney, Bath County The enactment by the Board of Supervisors of a meals tax ordinance with a rate of 1% after voters of that county gave their approval to a meals tax by a referendum vote is a valid exercise of the statutory authority granted to the Board of Supervisors to levy a meals tax in an amount and on such terms as that governing body may by ordinance prescribe.
     
10-093 Scott E. Parsons, Executive Director, Virginia Small Business Financing Authority The VSBFA is authorized to refinance bonds or other obligations previously issued by another authority, public body or political subdivision, including an industrial development authority.
     
10-091 David Paylor, Director, Dep’t of Environmental Quality Virginia localities do not have the authority to extend the application of their land use ordinances to state-owned submerged lands; and that therefore, for small renewable energy projects located on or in the waters above state-owned bottomland, there are no “applicable land use ordinances” for purposes of the certification requirement of § 10.1-1197.6(B)(2). Because DEQ is directed to assess whether a submitted application meets the requirements of “the applicable permit by rule regulations,” DEQ may treat the certification requirement of § 10.1-1197.6(B)(2) as inapplicable in this circumstance and may authorize a project if the agency determines that the project applicant has met all other applicable requirements.