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Official Opinions

 

January 2013 Opinions

Please click on Opinion number to view entire opinion.

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.

 

Opinion #

Requestor

Summary

12-053

Cynthia E. Hudson, Esquire
City Attorney for the City of Hampton

John F. Haugh, Esquire
Acting Commonwealth's Attorney
City of Hampton

Given the absence of a notice of acceptance filed with the Governor whereby the United States has accepted concurrent jurisdiction over the land on which the Designated Facilities are located, the United States does not hold concurrent legislative jurisdiction over the land on which the Designated Facilities are located. 

12-083

The Honorable George L. Barker
Member, Senate of Virginia

The plain language of § 46.2-716(B) is broad enough to prohibit the placing of a clear plastic covering over a license plate, if the covering in any way obscures information contained on the license plate, but that whether any particular covering would bring rise to a violation of the provision is a determination of fact beyond the scope of this opinion. 

12-003

The Honorable Randy C. Krantz
Commonwealth's Attorney, Bedford County

A management company that manages short-term transient occupancy rentals of fewer than thirty days for a portion of the condominium units in a condominium must be licensed with the Virginia Real Estate Board and must employ a licensed real estate broker before renting or offering to rent those condominium units on behalf of the units’ owners.

12-104

The Honorable Bryce E. Reeves
Member, Senate of Virginia

The Virginia Property Owners Act does not expressly provide or otherwise allow for a developer to maintain control of a homeowners’ association for a specific period of time or until a specific number of lots or units are sold, there is no Virginia Code provision to evaluate for constitutionality.  In addition, whether an impermissible conflict of interests exists when a lawyer is employed by the developer to serve simultaneously as the attorney for the developer and the association is not a matter of law upon which this Office can opine, but rather an ethical issue properly addressed by the Virginia State Bar.

12-072

The Honorable John C. Watkins
Member, Senate of Virginia

A motor vehicle title lender may not disburse loan proceeds through a debit card transaction in which the borrower’s bank account is credited with the amount of the loan.  Further, a motor vehicle title lender may not disburse loan proceeds through an electronic funds transfer to the borrower’s deposit account.

12-102

The Honorable Terry G. Kilgore
Member, House of Delegates

Although a local governing body may adopt a zoning ordinance that places restrictions on the location and siting of oil and gas wells that are reasonable in scope and consistent with the Virginia Gas and Oil Act and the Commonwealth Energy Policy, a local governing body cannot ban altogether the exploration for, and the drilling of, oil and natural gas within the locality’s boundaries. 

The Honorable Thomas C. Wright Jr.
Member, House of Delegates

Irrigation is not a necessary element for a farm pond to qualify for the agricultural exemption, provided the impounded waters are utilized in a manner found to be required for agricultural production.  Because the determination of whether the agricultural exemption applies to any particular structure is primarily a factual question reserved to the Director of DCR on a case-by-case basis, I decline to render an opinion on the issues raised in the second question presented.  Finally, absent a specific definition in the Dam Safety Act, it is appropriate to look to the definition of the term “forester” provided in the statutes governing the Department of Forestry as an interpretative guide, and that a forester differs from an orchardist in that an orchardist harvests fruit, nuts or sap from trees, while a forester is concerned with the timber itself.