Rapid City lost a long-running lawsuit against a local developer Friday when a jury decided that the Big Sky subdivision’s developer was not liable for its road repairs.
The city sued developer Doyle Estes and his company Big Sky in 2008 for not building the subdivision’s roads in line with city government specifications. The subdivision, located east of Elk Vale Road in Rapid Valley, has potholed and rippled roads long in need of repair.
After a five-day trial last week, a Pennington County jury decided in favor of Big Sky corporation, absolving it of responsibility for road repairs in the subdivision’s phases 1 to 4.
Rapid City legal officials had asked the jury for $914,000 to cover the repairs, said City Attorney Joel Landeen. The court had earlier dismissed claims against Estes.
Pennington County has denied responsibility for maintaining the roads, saying the city had overseen construction and is therefore responsible for maintenance.
The attorneys representing Big Sky, Costello Porter Law Offices, described the verdict in a written statement as “a win for all parties involved, including the city.”
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It said the jury “untangled some difficult technical issues” and the decision “provides a clearer path for all developers to continue effectively growing Rapid City.”
The City Council will decide if Rapid City should appeal the decision with the South Dakota Supreme Court, Landeen said in a phone interview. The matter is expected to be discussed at the council meeting in closed session on Monday night.
“Right now there are no further claims pending,” Landeen said. “If we don’t appeal it, that will be the end of it.”
The claims for road repairs in Big Sky’s phases 5 to 10, which had the least damage, had been settled last year for $250,000, said Landeen.
Meanwhile, Rapid City has moved to annex a 40-acre portion of Big Sky subdivision, which would allow it to conduct the road repairs. A resolution that officially changes the city limits to include that area is pending before the City Council, and Landeen said he has not seen any resistance to it.
If the resolution is approved within February, the annexation would be effective as early as March 23, according to a Rapid City government release.