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Supreme Court: Local board to reconsider maintenance of road in Brule Co.

The South Dakota Supreme Court upheld part of a circuit court decision Wednesday allowing for a portion of road outside Surat Farms, LLC to be reconsidered for full maintenance.

The America Township Brule County Board of Supervisors brought the case to the Supreme Court, asking to review a circuit court decision on if Surat Farms, LLC had the right to reverse the board's decision to downgrade a stretch of 264th Street for minimum maintenance.

The South Dakota Supreme Court ruled Surat Farms, LLC provided sufficient evidence to the board of supervisors that changing the maintenance of the road would negatively impact the access to the Surat farming operation and residence. The court also found sovereign immunity did not qualify and instructed the board of supervisors to readdress the matter of maintenance on the road.

On Jan. 6, 2015, the America Township Board of Supervisors downgraded a seven-mile stretch of road from full to minimum maintenance. The board argued it may designate a road for minimum maintenance if the road is only used occasionally. The board decided to designate the section of 264th Street between S.D. Highway 50 and 352nd Avenue for minimum maintenance.

Kirk Surat, of Surat Farms, LLC, filed an appeal on Feb. 2, 2016 to the circuit court arguing the portion of road being downgraded is primary access to his home and farming operation. The circuit court found the road was a "vital road for civilian use and farm businesses" and Surat used the road almost daily. The board of supervisors appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court.

The board of supervisors argued that Surat Farms, LLC did not have the ability to appeal the decision, that sovereign immunity applied to the township, and the circuit court did not have the authority to overturn the board's decision.