Town Incorporation of Massanutten

2.6 – Frequently Asked Questions

An interim report on the feasibility of incorporating Massanutten into a town was published on a website in August 2010. It was available for review and comment for roughly nine (9) months prior to the start of final reporting. During that review period, the author received numerous questions about town incorporation. Frequently asked questions (FAQs) were answered and placed on the website. Some FAQs have been incorporated into the text of this final report. Other FAQs applicable to this section of the report are noted as follows for completeness of reporting:

FAQ: Will the Massanutten Community vote on whether to incorporate into a town?

Answer: Neither the VA Code of Law nor the VA Administrative Code requires a vote on whether to incorporate a community into a town. However, if a community decides to incorporate via judicial proceedings, law states that the Court may ask the CLG to conduct a public hearing. If an individual wishes their voice to be heard on incorporation, they must come to this hearing and speak out.

If a community decides to incorporate via VA General Assembly enactment, the desires of the voting public will be heard by the elected officials. It would be valuable for the community to have a signed petition or results of a community non-binding referendum voted by citizens demonstrating that incorporation would be in the best interest of its inhabitants.

FAQ: Must the County give its approval for a community to incorporate into town?

Answer: NO ... Neither the VA Code of Law, nor the VA Administrative Code, nor Supreme Court precedence requires a County to give its approval or even give its support in order for a community to incorporate into a town — this is the case whether town incorporation is done via judicial proceedings or via General Assembly enactment. It would make incorporation go more smoothly, but not necessary. Some have claimed that Susan Williams stated (at a Community Meeting held in September 2010) county support is required for town incorporation. However, this claim is NOT true. In her presentation, it was stated that the «legal standard for incorporation in Virginia is fairly stringent — total county support or a long and pervasive pattern of neglect of the community by the county». In a subsequent letter on the subject, Ms. Williams wrote:

«The comment you refer to came in the part of my presentation where I attempted to describe the advantages and disadvantages of town incorporation — a necessarily subjective task because the code obviously does not set forth the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of incorporating.

Under the heading ‘Disadvantages’, the bullet point in my presentation ‘Total county support or a long and pervasive pattern of neglect of the community by the county’ (which you will note are two extremes) was intended as an example, elaborating on the previous bullet statement ‘Legal standard for incorporation in Virginia is fairly stringent’. Certainly, if a community had either of the former (total county support or, at the other end of the spectrum, pervasive neglect), it would be easier to demonstrate to the court that the community met the legal standard for incorporation.

The first ‘procedure’ slide in my presentation (Slide #7) indicates that are two ways to go: via charter from the General Assembly or via the statutory process. To me, it seems clear that the rest of the procedure slides (Slides 8-13) pertain to the latter — to the statutory process.

The legal standard set forth in Va. Code Section 15.2-3602 (which appears on Slide #10) pertains to the ‘proof’ required for a court to order that a proposed town be incorporated. The legal standard does not apply to the General Assembly considering a proposed charter though the General Assembly would certainly be free to consider the standard during their deliberations.»

FAQ: Must MPOA give its approval in order for the Massanutten community to incorporate into a town?

Answer: NO ... The Massanutten Property Owners Association (MPOA) is a private corporation. Neither the VA Code of Law, nor the VA Administrative Code, nor Supreme Court precedence requires a private corporation to give its approval in order for a community to incorporate into a town.