A. The special court shall enter an order granting town status if, after hearing the evidence, the court finds that:
1. The city has a current population of less than 50,000 people;
2. The adjoining county or counties have been made party defendants to the proceedings;
3. The proposed change from city to town status will not substantially impair the ability of the adjoining county in which the town will be located to meet the service needs of its population;
4. The proposed change from city to town status will not result in a substantially inequitable sharing of the resources and liabilities of the town and the county;
5. The proposed change from city to town status is, in the balance of equities, in the best interests of the city, the county, the Commonwealth, and the people of the county and the city; and
6. The proposed change from city status to town status is in the best interests of the Commonwealth in promoting strong and viable units of government.
B. The court shall have authority to impose such terms and conditions as it deems appropriate to:
1. Ensure an orderly transition from city status to town status;
2. Adjust financial inequities;
3. Balance the equities between the parties; and
4. Ensure protection of the best interests of the city, the county, the Commonwealth, and the people of the county and the city.
C. The court shall render a written opinion in every case brought under the provisions of this chapter.
D. In the event the court enters an order declaring the city eligible for town status, a copy of the order shall be certified to the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
1988, c. 881, § 15.1-965.16; 1997, c. 587.