PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled against landowners who sought to control the use of a road in Roberts County.
The case looked at the county government’s definition of the word ‘private’ on a plat map for subdivided properties along Big Stone Lake.
In an opinion publicly released Thursday, the justices agreed with Circuit Judge Jon Flemmer that the road is public but without county or township maintenance.
“The (Roberts County) Commission would not have approved the Bay Ridge plat if its lots had no access road,” Justice Scott Myren wrote.
A key witness in circuit court was Arden Moen, who was Roberts County’s director of equalization from 1991 to 2007.
“He (Moen) stated that a big concern for the Roberts County Planning and Zoning Committee was to ensure that the county or township would not be responsible for maintaining roads located in Big Stone Lake’s developments,” Justice Myren wrote.
“He commented that the committee labeled roads ‘private’ to put the public and subdivision lot purchasers on notice that adjacent lot owners, not the county or township, were responsible for the road’s maintenance,” the justice continued. “He asserted that the roads marked private are ‘public roads that are privately maintained, or . . . public roads that are not maintained by the county or township.’
“According to him, the committee did not intend the use of the word “private” to prohibit the public from using the road. He noted that all platted lots must have access to a road for the committee to approve the subdivision,” Myren wrote.