Pennington County Commissioner and rural Hill City resident George Ferebee has appealed a conviction saying he violated a county zoning ordinance and has been granted a new trial in May.
Ferebee was found guilty in September of maintaining at his property a septic system that lacked an operating permit. The zoning ordinance states that on-site wastewater treatment systems need to be pumped, inspected and issued permits regularly. Ferebee was ordered to pay a $200 fine.
The following month, Ferebee paid the fine and appealed the 7th Magistrate Court conviction in circuit court. Ferebee has since been scheduled a circuit court trial on May 16-17.
The Hill City Prevailer posed five questions to Ferebee regarding his upcoming trial. The following is the unedited text of those responses.
Dear Mr. Najacht, publisher of the Hill City Prevailer:
Your Hill City editor inquired about my appeal of retired Judge Johnson’s adverse ruling against me regarding an alleged violation of Pennington County’s amended and re-amended individual on-site wastewater treatment system (septic system) ordinance.
Why did you decide to appeal the ruling? Response: As the person being wrongfully, and I believe singularly and unlawfully, targeted by Pennington County under its vaguely amended and re-amended unnecessary and tax-generating patchwork ordinance, I wanted to be sure—on behalf of all private and law-abiding local citizens/taxpayers—to exercise the express right of my presumed innocence under both South Dakota law as well as our state and federal constitutions. My goal has been and remains to liberate all Pennington County residents with privately owned and maintained septic systems from this abject government tyranny. As a matter of historical note, a group of us private property-minded taxpaying citizens have worked hard to protect our private property rights by seeking to stave off such governmental overreach for eight (8) years.
Has anyone from the county came [sic] out and surveyed the land? Response: Presumably you mean my privately owned land. Pennington County’s environmental planning supervisor offered testimony during last September’s magistrate court trial that she did not have a necessary report from a county survey of my private property.
What is the hearing on Feb. 27 for? Response: The pre-trial hearing that has now been shifted from late February to the afternoon of April 10 has been scheduled to be heard in circuit court in order to deal with a number of pending legal issues prior to the intended jury trial which is currently scheduled for mid-May.
Do you know if it’s going to be a bench trial or a jury trial? Response: My appeal has been and is focused around exercising my right under state statute of having this case heard anew by and through a jury trial as provided for by state statute (SDCL 7-18A-34: Persons prosecuted under county ordinance provisions in magistrate court, “…shall have the right to appeal the verdict to the circuit court and the right to a trial de novo and a jury trial in circuit court.”)
What are you expecting at that trial in May? Response: If the upcoming jury trial proves necessary, I’m anticipating exercising my right to due process and to have the pressing issues in this matter be carefully heard and fully considered by a jury of my peers in this Pennington County case being singularly and unlawfully targeted against me, and as disturbingly being tried by the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office under the direction and supervision of the South Dakota Attorney General. Once again, to be clear, my ultimate goal is liberation for all rural Pennington County residents with septic systems from unnecessary government overreach as well as needless taxation and intrusion on each of our private property rights.