Fairfax County Indus. Development Authority v. Coyner

Citation207 Va. 351, 150 S.E.2d 87
Case DateSeptember 09, 1966
CourtSupreme Court of Virginia

Thomas O. Lawson, Fairfax (Thomas H. Monahan, Kelly, Farley & Lawson, Fairfax, on brief), for petitioner.

John T. Hazel, Jr., Fairfax (Grayson P. Hanes, Fairfax, on brief), for respondent.

Thomas H. Willcox, Jr., Hugh L. Patterson, Willcox, Savage, Lawrence, Dickson & Spindle, Norfolk, for Tidewater Virginia Development Council and others, amici curiae.

Donald C. Kilgore, H. Thomas Fennell, Jr., Cooper, Spong & Davis, Portsmouth, for Portsmouth Port & Industrial Commission, amicus curiae.


I'ANSON, Justice.

This is an original proceeding for a writ of mandamus filed under § 17--96, Code of 1950, 1960 Rep.Vol., by the Fairfax County Industrial Authority, hereinafter generally referred to as the Authority, which has been organized and is operating under the provisions of Chapter 643, Acts of Assembly, 1964, p. 975, to compel the respondent, Lewis M. Coyner, director of finance of Fairfax county, Virginia, to pay to the Authority the sum of $10,000, appropriated by the Fairfax county board of supervisors to cover the initial cost incurred by the Authority in acquiring land and other preliminary expenses for the construction of a building or buildings to be leased by it to a private corporation. When the respondent expressed doubt as to the constitutionality of the Act and his authority to pay the money, the present proceeding was filed.

The Act is entitled:

'An Act to create political subdivisions within the cities of Virginia Beach and Danville, and within the County of Fairfax; to provide for the composition, powers, duties and liabilities thereof and other matters pertaining thereto, to provide for the issuance of certain bonds; and to prescribe the terms and conditions governing the issuance of such bonds.'

Its pertinent provisions may be summarized as follows:

Section 1 creates political subdivisions to be known as the industrial development authorities of the respective cities and county named.

Sections 2, 3, 4 and 5 set out the steps required for organization and activation of an Authority in the respective cities and county.

Section 6 gives the Authority power to contract and be contracted with; to sue and to be sued; to acquire real and personal property; to construct, for sale or lease, warehouses, factories or manufacturing facilities of any kind; and to do all acts and things which may be reasonably necessary and convenient to carry out its purposes and powers.

Section 7 authorizes the Authority to foster and stimulate the development of industry in the area within its jurisdiction.

Section 10 authorizes the councils of the cities of Virginia Beach and Danville and the board of supervisors of Fairfax county to make appropriations and provide funds for the operation of the Authority.

Section 11 empowers the Authority to 'issue such types of bonds as it may determine, including (without limiting the generality of the foregoing) bonds payable, both as to principal and interest: (a) from its revenues generally; (b) exclusively from income and revenues of a particular 'facility'; * * * or (c) exclusively from income and revenues of certain designated facilities whether or not they are financed in whole or in part from the proceeds of such bonds. Any such bonds may be additionally secured by a pledge of any grant or contributions from the federal government, Commonwealth of Virginia, or any political subdivision which is a part of the Authority * * *.'

Section 12 provides that 'The bonds and other obligations of the Authority (and such bonds and obligations shall so state on their face) shall not be a debt of the Commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof and neither the Commonwealth nor any political subdivision thereof other than the Authority shall be liable thereon, nor, shall such bonds or obligations be payable out of any funds or properties other than those of the Authority. * * * Bonds of the Authority are declared to be issued for an essential public and governmental purpose.'

On January 21, 1966, the Fairfax County Industrial Development Authority, in conformity with the stated purpose of the Act, entered into separate agreements with Karloid Corporation and Hazleton Laboratories, Inc. Under the agreement with Karloid the Authority agreed to purchase from it two and one-half acres of land, upon which it planned to construct a building or buildings containing laboratories and research facilities which it proposed to lease to Hazleton. It was agreed that the entire cost of the project contemplated would be covered exclusively by the sale of revenue bonds to be issued by the Authority, and the principal and interest on the bonds proposed to be issued would be payable from the revenue derived by the Authority from leasing the facility. Karloid was given an option to purchase the land with the improvements thereon for $50,000 at the expiration of Hazleton's lease.

The Authority also agreed, in its contract with Karloid, to request a voluntary appropriation from the board of supervisors of Fairfax county in an account sufficient to cover the cost incurred in purchasing the land and other incidental expenses pending the sale of the revenue bonds, which amount it would reimburse the county upon the sale of the bonds.

Under the agreement with Hazleton, the Authority agreed to construct a building or buildings on the land in accordance with the specifications prepared by Hazleton and lease the land and improvements thereon to it at a rental sufficient to pay the bonds proposed to be issued, with interest, at maturity.

Both agreements were contingent upon the Authority's sale of the revenue bonds.

On February 2, 1966, the county board of supervisors appropriated $10,000, as requested by the Authority.

The questions presented are:

(1) Does the title of Chapter 643 sufficiently express the object of the Act so as to comply with § 52 of the Constitution of Virginia?

(2) Is the creation of an Industrial Development Authority to finance and construct facilities to be leased to private industry, pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 643, for a public purpose and thus a proper function of government?

(3) Does the Act violate the provisions of §§ 185 and 188 of the Constitution of Virginia?

The questions will be answered in the order enumerated above.


We have repeatedly held that the purpose of § 52 of the Constitution, which requires that the object of a law 'shall be expressed in its title' does not require the title to be an index or digest of the various provisions of the Act. The section is designed to prevent employment of deceptive titles which would conceal rather than reveal the true character of legislation; to prevent the members of the General Assembly and the public from being misled by the title; and to prohibit the bringing together into one act subjects which are adverse or dissimilar and have no kindred connection. The section was not intended to block honest legislation, and it is to be liberally construed. All that is required under § 52 is that the subjects embraced in a statute but not specified in the title be germane to or in furtherance of the objects expressed in the title, or have a legitimate and natural association therewith. Doe v. Brown, 206 Va. 508, 514, 125 S.E.2d 159, 164; Kingan, Inc. v. City of Richmond, 198 Va. 820, 822, 97 S.E.2d 11, 13, 14; Fallon Florist v. City of Roanoke, 190 Va. 564, 587, 58 S.E.2d 316, 327.

It was obviously not necessary to include every provision of Chapter 643 in the title of the Act. What the Act authorizes to be done has a legitimate and kindred association with its title. It cannot be said that anyone would be misled by the title, which is sufficiently explicit to comply with § 52 of the Constitution.


It is an elementary principle of constitutional law that the General Assembly does not function under a grant of powers, and it may enact any law which is not prohibited by the Constitution of Virginia. Our Constitution differs from the Federal Constitution in that the Federal Constitution is a grant of specific powers. All acts of the legislature are presumed to be constitutional unless the contrary is clearly shown, and every reasonable doubt shall be resolved in favor of their constitutionality. Thus courts cannot strike down a statute enacted by the General Assembly unless it clearly appears that such statute does contravene some provision of the Constitution. Almond v. Day, 199 Va. 1, 6, 97 S.E.2d 824, 828; Almond v. Gilmer, 188 Va. 822, 834, 51 S.E.2d 272, 276; City of Roanoke v. James W. Michael's Bakery Corp., 180 Va. 132, 142, 143, 21 S.E.2d 788, 793.

Over a period of many years the Commonwealth has taken action to stimulate and encourage the development of agriculture, trade, commerce and industry to promote the welfare and prosperity of its people.

Indicative of the State's interest in 'agriculture and industrial development' was the creation of produce market authorities, Title 3, Chapter 7.1, Article 1, of the Code of 1950, as amended (§§ 3--79.1 through 3--79.18, Chapter 407, Acts of Assembly, 1954). Under the provisions of the Act certain cities and counties of the State were authorized by the General Assembly to establish authorities which would provide facilities for the buying, selling and distribution of perishable farm produce.

In a mandamus proceeding involving the constitutionality of the Produce Market Loan Fund Act, Title 3, Chapter 7.1, Article 2, Code of 1950, as amended (§§ 3--79.19 through 3--79.27; Chapter 453, Acts of Assembly 1954), we held that the Richmond Produce Market Authority, created under Chapter 407, was generally for the 'State's benefit' and not strictly for the purpose of promoting 'private...

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