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September 13, 2012 10:00 PM

Building Boom At Polygamist Compound

Near Pringle, SD

The fundamentalist religious group led by Warren Jeffs has been adding on to their compound near Pringle, South Dakota.  A massive building under construction has piqued the curiosity of people in the area.

The FLDS sect has been in a perpetual state of construction for years. In fact, Custer County records show a total of 22-structures have been built since the group moved into the area. 

"The tower is kind of an icon out there, and there's always a question about that.  Why is it there? I think everybody has some kind of thoughts about what's going on," Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler said.

New aerial photographs show four buildings currently under construction, including one with a 100 by 120 foot foundation.

"Size does alarm some people, but we don't regulate the size of anybody's structure beyond using that as a basis for permitting costs," Custer County Planning Director David Green said.

While you can't see much construction from the road, county officials were out on Wednesday and say that all the building projects have current permits.

"They indicated that it's a structure of religious significance.  But, then again, every structure is of religious significance out there.  The permit states that it is a storage building," Green said.

Other buildings under construction include a chicken coop and milking barn, all needed to support a population that could be into the hundreds.

"I think based on the number of residential structures and the units within those, probably a couple of hundred, 200-300 I would guess," Green said.

But in spite of the controversial nature of the FLDS, county officials say there's no evidence that they're doing anything wrong.

"As far as I know at this time, they're not breaking any laws," Wheeler said.

"We administer the same ordinance to everybody.  Permitting standards are the same.  We're very careful about not selecting one group just because maybe philosophical differences exist," Green said.

Officials say that construction in the compound has slowed over the last couple months, which may be related to a funding issue.

Warren Jeffs is currently serving a life sentence plus 20-years in a Texas prison for sexually assaulting two girls.

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This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
A misspelling was corrected in this story.

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