Martinsville threatens Henry County with legal action after county rejects reversion agreement

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – “The entirely avoidable responsibility for all of this is yours alone,” wrote Martinsville Mayor Kathy Lawson in a letter to the Henry County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday.

The road to reversion for Martinsville has taken a turn after Henry County rejected the city’s agreement.

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According to the mayor’s letter, during a Tuesday night meeting, Henry County leaders rejected the Voluntary Settlement Agreement as the city of Martinsville attempts to revert to a town and officially become a part of the county.

The agreement was approved twice by the County Board and three times by City Council and received final approval from the city on Nov. 23; however, on Tuesday, county leaders rejected the agreement after city officials said they were reassured several times that the agreement would be approved.

City officials also claim that they were told by several sources that the county will attempt to make reversion “practically impossible” through legislative changes.

In response to the rejection, city officials said its legal team will take steps to immediately enforce the agreement and will even take legal action if necessary.

“If for some reason compliance with the VSA is not mandated, then the City will proceed with arbitration, seeking all remedies available to it, including relief of damages incurred as a result of our detrimental reliance upon a settlement subsequently shown to have been negotiated in bad faith by the County. We will also pursue a litigated reversion under existing law.”

You can read the full statement from Jim Adams, the chairman of the Henry County Board of Supervisors, below:

If 2021 showed us anything, it showed us that we as a community should be on the same page before we enact anything as consequential as reversion. Community members in both the City and County made it crystal clear to the Commission on Local Government that they would like to see the process involve more citizen engagement and more input from the two school systems.

With the Board of Supervisors voting not to move forward with the Voluntary Settlement Agreement, we are given another opportunity to do just that. We have the opportunity for every member of City Council and the Board of Supervisors to come to the table and negotiate on behalf of our constituents.

We have the opportunity to bring our respective schools and constitutional officers to that same table. We can allow our communities time to truly understand the weight of this decision, the opportunity to get this right.

Let us be driven by the consent of those who we represent.

That is what Henry County resolves to do in 2022. We sincerely hope our partners in the City of

Martinsville have also heard the concerns of the community and resolve to do the same.

Jim Adams, chairman of the Henry County Board of Supervisors

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