- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 25, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The Buffalo Chip Campground of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally fame asked South Dakota’s Supreme Court on Tuesday to let it remain a city.

The high court heard arguments after a lower court ruled against the Board of Meade County Commissioners and the campground last year. The annual Sturgis rally draws hundreds of thousands of people to the area, and the campground hosts hordes of those visitors.

The campground-turned-city has faced opposition from nearby Sturgis and others. Campground attorney Kent Hagg said he believes Sturgis someday wants to annex Buffalo Chip for sales tax revenue. Businesses in Buffalo Chip reported roughly $123,000 in municipal taxes due in 2016, according to the state Department of Revenue.

Sturgis has a history of “seeking to involuntarily annex areas that produce very, very strong sales tax revenue during the rally,” Hagg said.

A campground spokeswoman referred a request for comment to Hagg. Campground CEO Rod Woodruff told the Meade County Times-Tribune in 2015 that the incorporation would improve economic opportunities at Buffalo Chip.

“This is opening doors to serious economic development. It’s a win-win,” he said.

Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen didn’t immediately return a telephone message requesting comment. His city argues the lower court’s decision should be upheld.

The lower-court judge ruled that Meade County commissioners didn’t follow state law in approving Buffalo Chip’s petition to become a municipality. They voted in February 2015 to allow the campground to move forward in its bid to become a town. Voters confirmed it in an election months later.

Circuit Court Judge Jerome Eckrich also ruled that people who voted to approve the town didn’t technically live at addresses where they registered to vote. He found that the city’s incorporation was void and that the election was a nullity.

“If you drive by the campground, you can see nobody lives there, and it’s not a well-kept secret in Meade County that nobody lives at this campground,” Mark Marshall, an attorney for Sturgis resident Gary Lippold, said during the Tuesday arguments.

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