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Official Opinions


September 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 #



James E. Barnett, Esquire
County Attorney, York County

To determine whether the email distribution list is a public record subject to the Freedom of Information Act, it is necessary to determine whether the newsletter utilizing the email distribution list is a public record.  This is a fact-specific determination that cannot be made based on the facts provided. 

The Honorable Douglas W. Domenech
Secretary of Natural Resources

The prohibition on appropriations to charities set forth in Article IV, § 16 of the Constitution of Virginia precludes DEQ from distributing state funds pursuant to the appropriation about which you inquire, because the language of the appropriation is in the nature of a gift.

Larry W. Davis, Esquire
County Attorney for the County of Albemarle

Under § 10.1-1011, conservation easement land covered by the provisions of the statute must meet the minimum acreage requirement of § 58.1-3233 at the time the easement is dedicated, unless the easement was placed on the property before the local land use assessment ordinance was adopted; subsequent changes in acreage or use that are permitted under the conservation easement would not affect the continuing eligibility of the land for use assessment under § 10.1-1011(C).  In addition, no back taxes, including the roll-back tax, may be imposed when conservation easement land, through apparent unpermitted use or development, no longer appears to qualify for use assessment under § 10.1-1011(C).  Finally, upon the initiation of appropriate proceedings and the making of factual findings respecting the land and easement in question, such subsequent violations of the conservation easement could render the land ineligible for use assessment under § 10.1-1011(C).

James R. Benkahla, Esquire
Interim County Attorney
Office of County Attorney
County of Spotsylvania

The Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors may not enact a zoning ordinance amendment that applies to parcels located in areas defined by the boundaries of electoral districts, without regard to the boundaries of the county’s zoning districts.

The Honorable R. Steven Landes
Member, House of Delegates

For specified zoning classifications, § 15.2-905(A) authorizes Albemarle County to ban the keeping of inoperable vehicles unless the inoperable vehicle is “within a fully enclosed building or structure or otherwise shielded or screened from view . . . .”  

The Honorable John T. Frey, Clerk
Circuit Court of Fairfax

Clerks of court should assess the regional congestion relief fee on real estate conveyance instruments based upon the date of recordation.

Mark C. Popovich, Esquire
County Attorney
County of Isle of Wight

The deed of conveyance between the Commonwealth and Isle of Wight Countyobligated the county to maintain and preserve the dwelling in good condition, including to take reasonable measures to protect it from catastrophic loss.  Further, the county’s failure to maintain and preserve the dwelling does not give rise to a right of entry and reverter under the deed, so as to entitle the Commonwealth to reclaim title to the Fort Boykin property.