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Martinsville's reversion process is in a holding pattern
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Martinsville's reversion process is in a holding pattern

From the The recent history of reversion for the city of Martinsville series
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Martinsville’s process of reverting from a city to a town is in a holding pattern as far as the Commission on Local Government is concerned.

“Based on actions taken by the CLG during its May 13 regular meeting, the proceedings on this matter have been paused while the CLG awaits further updates from the City and the County after the joint adoption of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU),” Local Government Policy Administrator David Conmy wrote by email. “I would be unable to provide an expected date when the matter may be concluded.”

The first step of the process begins with Martinsville’s filing notice with the CLG and Henry County’s filing a response.

Two days of hearings, with a presentation by Martinsville and a cross examination of witnesses, has been replaced with a memorandum of understanding agreed upon by Martinsville City Council and the Henry County Board of Supervisors at a joint meeting last month.

Those hearings were scheduled to conclude with a public hearing on the matter. It is unclear if the MOU cancels the hearing as well.

The first step of the process concludes with the CLG’s filing a report of its findings and conclusions to a 3-judge court appointed by the Virginia Supreme Court, but that hasn’t occurred.

“The CLG’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be held on Thursday, July 8, at 11 a.m., so it’s possible the CLG may have an update on this matter at that time,” Conmy wrote.

Although the meeting will be open to the public, Conmy said he didn’t know where it would convened.

“Because of the governor’s declared state of emergency will be lifted on June 30, this next CLG meeting will be held in-person,” Conmy wrote. “Details on the location are forthcoming, and it’s possible a virtual/streaming component for this meeting for members of the public will be provided, but that option is pending.”

The second part of the process begins when the three judges are appointed. Based on the three previous reversions in Virginia, the court would take six to nine months before issuing a ruling.

The third step in the process occurs when the court issues its ruling, with the setting of terms and conditions that will ensure an orderly transition, adjusts for any financial inequities and ensures protection for the best interests of the localities and the residents.

It is unclear if the court will forgo consideration of any adjustments and accept the MOU as agreed upon by the city and the county.

Finally, Martinsville must decide whether to accept the ruling with any additional terms or conditions required by the court.

Martinsville will have a period of 21 days once the town status is presented in the court’s ruling to decline to accept it, because there is always the possibility the court will include conditions that will make reversion unacceptable.

If the 21 days pass without rejection by the city, then the city becomes a town, and that new status is permanent. Once a city in Virginia reverts to a town, it may not return to an independent city.

Bill Wyatt is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at 276-638-8801, Ext. 236. Follow him @billdwyatt.

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