Home of white supremacist in Leith, N.D., could be condemned

From the Grand Fork Herald

Craig Paul Cobb purchased the white, two-story home Sept. 16, 2011. (TJ Jerke/Forum News Service)

Craig Paul Cobb purchased the white, two-story home Sept. 16, 2011. (TJ Jerke/Forum News Service)

The Leith home of white supremacist Craig Cobb could be condemned because it is not connected to water and sewer lines.

Cobb, 61, has purchased 12 lots in the tiny town about 75 miles southwest of Bismarck as part of his plan to turn the town into a haven for white supremacists. Cobb is living in one of three structures he bought.

Cobb’s property is among several targeted with a nuisance complaint issued by the Leith city commission in early August.

Custer Health Environmental Services in Mandan, which provides safety and sanitation inspections for five counties, including Grant County, issued 12 citations to 10 individuals last week, saying their properties are a public health nuisance.

Three complaints were given to Cobb.

The town is now waiting for property owners to address the nuisance complaints within their 30-day deadline.

Cobb said Sunday he does not plan on complying with the request.

Aaron Johnson, the environmental health practitioner that oversees nuisance complaints and the on-site septic system license, permit and inspection program for the health unit, said Cobb had five days from the day he received the notice to provide details of how he will comply with state law.

The deadline has since passed and Cobb has not provided any plans.

Cobb, who faces opposition from town residents that want him to move out of town, claims the city is targeting him with the requirements.

Leith Mayor Ryan Schock said he doesn’t think so.

“(Cobb) was just at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Schock said.

Johnson said if Cobb doesn’t have a plan for his water and sewer, Custer Health will have to declare the property unfit for habitation and take the issue to district court. If the court agrees, an eviction notice will be issued to Cobb.

Johnson said they are looking for some sort of action from Cobb such as signing up for rural water or putting in a well system and then taking a permit out for some type of septic removal.

“Even though the five days have lapsed, if we were to be presented with a plan at this point, we’d be happy with that,” Johnson said Monday. “All we care about the house is it be equipped with what’s required or somebody doesn’t live in it.”

Asked about his plans for the property, Cobb said Sunday, “We’re going to meet in district court.”

Schock said the city commission has been talking about cleaning up the town for a couple of years and decided they were ready to issue the complaint.

“If they don’t have it done, we’re just going to a citywide cleanup,” Schock said. “We’re going to take down any buildings that need to be taken down and remove all vehicles.”

Custer Health officials say they had visited Leith to survey the properties identified by the city before Cobb’s plans for a white supremacist community were exposed last month.

The other two nuisance citations given to Cobb related to two decrepit buildings on other pieces of his land. Aaron Johnson said they are structures that can potentially harbor rodents or attract children who could injure themselves

The other nine nuisance complaints issued were given to property owners that owned abandoned vehicles and properties with piles of construction materials.

Jeff Schoep, the leader of the National Socialist Movement that held a town hall meeting in Leith on Sunday that drew more than 300 protesters, told reporters the national group is looking into the legality of the attempts to condemn Cobb’s property. Supporters will be ready to file a lawsuit if they believe Cobb’s civil rights are being violated.

Keith Johnson, an administrator with Custer Health, said they will speak to their attorney soon to determine the next legal step.

Said Aaron Johnson: “We don’t go out looking for these, but if something is reported to us as a complaint, we have to follow through regardless of who it is.”