A. The special court shall order an election to determine if the voters of the county desire the General Assembly to grant the county a municipal charter if, after hearing the evidence, it finds that:
1. The county possesses at the time of the filing of the petition a minimum population of 20,000 persons and a density of population of at least 300 persons per square mile, or a minimum population of 50,000 persons and a density of population of at least 140 persons per square mile, based either on the latest United States census, on the latest estimates of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service of the University of Virginia, or on a special census conducted under court supervision; and
3. After a consideration of the best interests of the parties, the interest of the Commonwealth in the county’s compliance with and promotion of applicable State policies with respect to environmental protection, public planning, education, public transportation, housing and other State service policies declared by the General Assembly, and the interest of the Commonwealth in promoting strong and viable units of government in the area, the county is eligible for city status.
B. An election held pursuant to this section shall comply with §§ 24.2-682 and 24.2-684. The order for election shall allow sufficient time for the preparation of a charter as hereafter provided for in this chapter. Such election shall be held no earlier than 180 days and no later than 300 days subsequent to the entry of the order of election.
1979, c. 85, § 15.1-977.9; 1997, c. 587.