Buffalo Chip is not a city, judge rules

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STURGIS, S.D. (KOTA TV) -- The Buffalo Chip is a famous motorcycle rally campground.
It's also a world renowned music venue.

What it isn't -- as of Tuesday afternoon -- is a South Dakota municipality.

A Fourth Circuit judge ruled Tuesday that the Town of Buffalo Chip -- incorporated four years ago -- is not a valid city.

Judge Gordon Swanson rule that the 2015 vote to incorporate the site of the rally campground into a municipality was invalid.

Swanson held that a new town must have 100 residents and 30 voters.
Lawyers for the Chip argued that the law said a new city must have either the requisite residents or sufficient voters. When the vote to incorporate the town was held there were fewer than 100 residents.

City of Sturgis leaders -- who have opposed the Chip becoming a municipality for years -- said they were pleased with Swanson's action.

"We're happy with today's ruling," said Sturgis City Manager Daniel Aislie. "We're appreciative of the judge and the court's time o this very important case and overall we're just gratified at the notion that the judge repeated that town are to have residents."

The legal wrangling over the Chip's move began immediately after the vote and the Buffalo Chip's status has been in court since then -- including once in the State Supreme Court.

Lawyers for the Chip say the case just might end right back up in the high court.

"Well the Town of Buffalo Chip is disappointed in the ruling most definitely," said Kent Hagg who serves as the town attorney for Buffalo Chip. "However based on the ruling he made form the bench we believe that the law on the matter as we presented it and as we interpreted it will stand the day, ultimately."

Hagg said he intends to recommend to the trustees of the Town Of Buffalo Chip -- at its next meeting on Monday -- that the city appeal today's ruling to the state supreme court.