Town of Buffalo Chip case heading back to Meade County court

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BUFFALO CHIP, S.D. (KOTA TV) -- It seems fair to assume the Buffalo Chip campground will long be part of the rally landscape.

MSN.com just named the outfit the "Best outdoor concert venue in South Dakota" and business is booming.

"Our rally really started on Saturday already," said Rod Woodruff, owner of the Chip. He said the number of early arrivals (the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally doesn't officially start until Friday) was a Buffalo Chip record. "We just sat around amazed that we had lines of people here," he said.

But how long will the Town of Buffalo Chip be part of the state's municipal landscape? On that question there remains a question mark as it lands back in court Tuesday.

Chip residents voted to incorporate into the Town of Buffalo Chip in 2015. The City of Sturgis and some citizens objected and filed suit. A Meade County judge sided with Sturgis and threw out the Buffalo Chip vote. On appeal, the state Supreme Court vacated the ruling, agreeing with the Chip's lawyers that only the state can challenge the status of an existing municipality. The state then brought that challenge and the Supreme Court directed the action back to Meade County court.

On Tuesday Judge Gordon Swanson will hear oral arguments on Buffalo Chip's motion to dismiss the case.

The Chip has argued in court documents that the state has no statutory authority to dissolve an existing municipality.

"The statute is very clear that the state's authority to dissolve a corporation excepts municipal corporations," said Town of Buffolo Chip's city attorney Kent Hagg. "It's not supported by law at all. In fact the state is prevented and prohibited from dissolving a municipal corporation."

The position was noted in Sturgis City Hall.

"It is kind of ironic that now the purported city of Buffalo Chip is now trying to take an opposite stance saying that there can be no review (by the state of a municipality) which is different than what they've been saying the entire time," said Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie. "Really, based on those reasons we feel pretty confident. Ultimately it'll be up to the judge and we'll see what he has to say."