The town of Buffalo Chip will be arguing for the dismissal of the state’s case against its incorporation. According to the Black Hills Pioneer, the town’s attorney, Kent Hagg, will argue the case at the Fourth Circuit Court in Sturgis beginning July 31st.
Buffalo Chip was originally incorporated in 2015, despite opposition from Meade County residents and the city of Sturgis. Since then, legal issues have been continuous, going all the way to the state Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the incorporation on January 25th, 2018, stating that any action challenging the town’s incorporation must be brought by the state of South Dakota. The courts have since granted the state permission to intervene at the circuit court level.
The state has hired attorney James Moore to oversee this case. The case asserts that under state law a town cannot be incorporated if it has fewer than 100 legal residents, which Buffalo Chip does not have according to Meade County census data. However, discrepancies arose around the state law concerning municipal incorporation, which was changed in 2016. While the law previously read that only municipalities with over 100 legal residents “or” more than 30 voters could be incorporated, the text has been changed to require at least 100 residents “and” 45 registered voters.
Hagg says that the state does not have the authority to dissolve a municipality, but state attorney Moore maintains that the state’s challenge is valid under state law.
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