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City of Rapid City v. Doyle Estes

November 16, 2011

CITY OF RAPID CITY, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT,
v.
DOYLE ESTES, INDIVIDUALLY, BIG SKY, LLC AND DAKOTA HEARTLAND, INC., DEFENDANTS AND APPELLEES.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT PENNINGTON COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA THE HONORABLE WALLY EKLUND Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gilbertson, Chief Justice

CONSIDERED ON BRIEFS ON AUGUST 22, 2011

[¶1.] Rapid City (City) Ordinances require a developer to complete certain public improvements before the City accepts a final plat. In lieu of completing the improvements before the City accepts a plat, the City may accept a surety from a developer. In this case, Doyle Estes; Big Sky, LLC; and Dakota Heartland, Inc. (collectively "Developers") provided sureties which the City accepted. The sureties expired. The City sued Developers, seeking relief to have the required public improvements completed or repaired to meet the City's standards. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Developers. We reverse and remand.

FACTS

[¶2.] Developers were involved in developing the Big Sky subdivision in Rapid City, South Dakota. Under SDCL 11-6-26, a municipality has extra-territorial jurisdiction to regulate the subdivision of all land within three miles of the municipality's corporate limits.*fn1 Under SDCL 11-6-27*fn2 the City adopted Chapter 16 of Rapid City Municipal Code (RCMC). Chapter 16 establishes regulations governing the subdivision of land within the City's jurisdiction.

[¶3.] RCMC 16.16.010 requires developers to install or construct certain public improvements:

A. The subdivider is required to install or construct the improvements hereinafter described prior to receiving approval of his or her final plat or prior to having released bond or other securities which guarantee the required improvements.

B. All improvements required under these regulations shall be constructed in accordance with City Specificiations and under the inspection of the City Engineer or his or her duly authorized representative.

RCMC 16.16.010. "Improvements" include streets, curbs, gutters, property markers, sidewalks, street lights, traffic signs, water mains, sanitary sewers, and storm sewers. RCMC 16.16.020 - .090. The City adopted Standard Specifications for Public Works Construction (Specifications) that improvements were required to meet. [¶4.] The RCMC provided an alternative to prior construction of required improvements before approval of final plats would be considered. RCMC 16.20.060 provides:

A. No final plat shall be approved by the Common Council or accepted for record by the Register of Deeds until all the preceding required improvements listed shall be constructed in a satisfactory manner and approved by the Director of Public Works or his or her designee; or in lieu of the prior construction, the Common Council may accept a security bond in an amount equal to the estimated cost of installation of the required improvements , whereby the improvements will be made and utilities installed without cost to the city in the event of default of the subdivider.*fn3

B. If the final plat is for transfer of title and is so designated, the Common Council may approve other methods, in lieu of actual completion or bonds, whereby the city is put in assured position that all the improvements will be made before the land is developed. All bonds and other methods of guarantee shall be approved by the City Attorney. (Emphasis added.)

[¶5.] After improvements are completed, the City's Specifications address project acceptance:

Final acceptance of the project by the Owner [City] will be documented by the issuance of an acceptance letter , which is issued according to the following criteria:

1) Construction has been substantially completed and the facilities can be put ...


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