Buffalo Chip City Legal Challenge Fails

Jan 25, 2018

The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that Buffalo Chip City remains a city. The high court released its opinion on Thursday, Jan. 25.

Buffalo Chip is located a few miles outside of Sturgis. It incorporated as a city in the spring of 2015. The city of Sturgis tried to block the election but a circuit judge allowed it to proceed, and voters approved the incorporation.

The Supreme Court says because Buffalo Chip became a city, only the state or someone acting on its behalf can challenge the process.

Attorney Kent Hagg made that point when he represented Buffalo Chip at oral arguments in April.

"It is only the state that may inquire as to the validity or the incorporation of a municipality," Hagg told justices. "It's only the state that can inquire. This court--the circuit court--had no jurisdiction on this, not only because of standing but because of... And if it ever did... have jurisdiction of subject matter, it lost that subject matter jurisdiction when the town was formed."

Because the circuit court did not have jurisdiction, the Supreme Court did not rule on other questions in the appeal.

For background on this story, listen to the April 25, 2017 coverage posted below.