Buffalo Chip City Status Still Uncertain


There are new developments in the long legal battle over whether the Buffalo Chip campground outside of Sturgis should exist as a legal municipality. 

The governor’s office has asked the attorney general to step in with a special council to present more information to the supreme court. 

Two and a half years ago, the Meade County commission approved Buffalo Chip’s request to incorporate as a legal municipality. Since then that decision has been in and out of the courts.  

The latest action by the governor’s office comes in response to a request from the city of Sturgis, which still maintains that the proper procedures were not followed by the Meade County Commission in 2015.

“It was not a proper distance away from the city. They did not have 100 residents. They did not have 35 registered voters. They did not have a petition that was on an agenda item for action by the county commission. The county commission did not notify 24 hours in advance. The petition was not listed for 12 days. Over and over again, none of the requirements, none of the process to go through was correct,” Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie said. 

On the other hand, the attorney for Buffalo Chip, Kent Hagg, says the Buffalo Chip’s status as a municipality is an established fact. And that the Supreme Court has agreed with the legitimacy of that status. 

“The Supreme Court came down unanimously in our favor, city, among other things that, at a minimum, the town of Buffalo Chip is a de facto corporation; meaning, the fact that it exists and has been carrying on as a public body for well over two and a half years means that it therefore exists,” Hagg said. 

Buffalo Chip and its attorneys are being asked to present a summary of their positions on the matter next week. 

The issue is important because it goes to the heart of the matter of jurisdiction in the state, how local government bodies should be formed, and whose interests should be represented.

The situation should become clearer when materials are presented before the court later on this month.

The Buffalo Chip becomes home to tens of thousands of bikers during the Sturgis motorcycle rally in late summer each year . 

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