Supreme Court rules Buffalo Chip Campground can’t be own municipality

STURGIS, S.D. (KBHB) – The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that the Buffalo Chip Campground cannot be its own municipality.

In a unanimous decision Thursday, the high court ruled the campground to stop acting as an incorporated town.

Justice Janine Kern had worte that state government had standing to bring action in the matter.

The decision ends a five-year long battle that began when the Meade County Commission gave the campground the okay to hold a vote to incorporate.

The issue was soon sent to court and the South Dakota Municipal League joined with the city of Sturgis and others as plaintiffs.

The South Dakota Supreme Court was divided 4-1, however, on a second question of interpreting the law regarding the requirements for a municipality that were in effect in 2015, when the Buffalo Chip became its own town.

Justice Patricia DeVaney said back in 2015, the campground did not have 100 residents when the incorporation vote happened.

Because of that, Judge DeVaney wrote “a municipality is prohibited from incorporating if it contains less than one hundered residents or if it contains less than thirty voters.”

In 2016, the legislature increased voter requirements to 45 to form a municipality in an amendment. DeVaney said this was likely in response to this very grammatical debate that arose in conjunction with this particular litigation.

Chief Justice David Gilbertson was the lone dissenter on the second issue.