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Rapid City-area homeowners sue county over sinkhole risks

September 28, 2021 GMT

BLACK HAWK, S.D. (AP) — More than 150 homeowners in a development outside Rapid City are suing Meade County over risks to their properties after a sinkhole exposed an abandoned gypsum mine.

The federal complaint filed Monday by Hideaway Hills residents in Black Hawk seeks damages to be determined by a jury and other relief “allowed by law or equity.”

The sinkhole forced about 40 residents from 15 homes in April 2020. Geotechnical studies show there could be water flowing through the abandoned mine and toward Interstate 90 and there is the potential for future sinkholes, the Rapid City Journal reported.

The complaint alleges several violations of the state Constitution. It says the decision to approve the subdivision by the county Planning Commission and the Meade County Commission put homeowners at risk.

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“Without the decisions to approve the subdivision, issue building permits and certificates of occupancy, the opportunity for harm would not have existed,” the complaint states.

Developers allegedly informed the county in 2001 of an underground gypsum mine and discussed taking steps to determine if it was safe to build on. The commission approved the subdivision proposal in 2003.

Katelyn Cook, an attorney for the county, said her legal team does not comment on pending litigation.