Jackpine Gypsies annexation referred to public vote

The Hill Climb is part of the 47 acres of Jackpine Gypsies Club grounds in Sturgis that were annexed by the city on June 1. The Gypsies have gathered enough signatures to bring the annexation to a vote of Sturgis residents. Pioneer photo by Deb Holland

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STURGIS — The Sturgis City Council will decide at a special meeting Monday on a date for a referendum election on the Jackpine Gypsies annexation.

Club members have been collecting signatures to refer the annexation to a vote of the residents of Sturgis since the Sturgis City Council approved the annexation on June 1.

The Gypsies had 20 days to gather signatures and petition the city to put the issue to a public vote.

Sturgis City Finance Officer Fay Bueno said Thursday that the Gypsies had met the deadline – 5 p.m. Wednesday - and number of signatures needed – 210 – to send the issue to a vote.

Bueno said the council has the options of either Aug. 4 or Aug. 18 for the special election. A simple majority of votes for or against the annexation will determine the outcome.

The election will be held for all Sturgis precincts at the Sturgis Community Center.

The city already knows it must send out 200 ballots to residents of Sturgis who have applied for and been approved to receive absentee ballots for all elections scheduled within their precinct during the year 2020.

The last referendum vote held in Sturgis was in 2010 when the city’s vote to annex the Full Throttle property failed. In one of the largest single-issue votes ever held in the city, the referendum to annex 1,821 acres of land east of Sturgis along S.D. Highway 34 was defeated 920-818.

The vote on the Jackpine Gypsies property on June 1 was approved 7-1, with Ron Waterland abstaining and Rhea Crane voting “no.”  The Gypsies’ club grounds are located off Moose Drive and Short Track Road west of Interstate 90 in Sturgis.

Waterland had sued the Gypsies in the recent past and cited conflict of interest for abstaining on the vote. Crane said she would not comment on why she voted against the annexation.

Areas to the north and south of the Gypsies’ 47 acres are already included in the Sturgis city limits.

At the first public hearing on the resolution of intent to annex the Gypsies property, club members Jim Paisley and Brett Winsell told the council they were concerned that annexing the club grounds, which includes a dirt oval racetrack, motocross and hill climb course, might fall under present or future city restrictions on continuing those activities.

Without a clear agreement, club members worried that the city could impose limits on the time of day, days of the week, or enforce noise limits on the club’s racing events.

In a slide presentation prior to the vote on June 1, Sturgis City Attorney Greg Barnier highlighted some areas of the proposed development agreement between the city and the Jackpine Gypsies.

It specifically stated that races of all sorts including flat track motorcycle racing, motocross, go-cart and ATV racing along with other activities could continue at the site.

The Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club is one of the oldest AMA-chartered off-road clubs in the country. Chartered in 1937, the club is credited with hosting the first Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in 1938.

Today they host about 12 events during the Rally including short track racing, flat-track racing, motocross racing, hill climbs and road tours.

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