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Hot Springs voters go to the polls over manure

Hot Springs voters go to the polls over manure

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Perhaps the most unusual issue that voters in any community throughout the Black Hills will decide Tuesday is a ballot issue in Hot Springs concerning horse manure.

The ballot issues asks the Hot Springs Council to remove an order from city files that prohibited property owner Martin Dahl from "depositing horse manure in his backyard and shall file a motion in magistrate court to vacate the Oct. 22, 2008, court order and judgment." It also specifies that city pay Dahl $800 and return his manure.

Last spring, Dahl had a large amount of horse manure brought to his property. After a complaint was filed at City Hall, building inspector Scott Simianer ordered the manure removed.

Local contractor Rod Reynolds, who hauled the manure away, said he had hauled about 35 cubic yards of manure from the site.

Dahl had stated that the manure was intended for a garden on his property, although when the case was pursued in magistrate court, he testified that he intended to use the manure as fill.

Court documents show that Dahl pleaded guilty in magistrate court last October and was sentenced to a $200 fine, $53 in court costs, was ordered to remove the manure and not haul more of it onto his property for six months. The fine was suspended upon payment of the court costs and Dahl's compliance with the other terms.

The ballot issue, if it passes, would have the city pay Dahl for the cost of removing the manure and to "procure and deliver to Mr. Dahl either the original manure removed or a similar quality and quantity" to be used in his garden.

City Attorney Pat Ginsbach noted that the ballot issue's request of $800 was invalid because state law mandates a claim be made for the city to make a payment. "There has been no claim made agains tthe city for this," he told city officials in April.

Ginsbach added that if the measure did pass, it would likely go to circuit court to determine if the city should pay the money.

In addition to the ballot measure, Hot Springs voters also have city council elections in Wards 1, 2 and 3 and four school board positions to decide.

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