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Leith requiring supremacist to install water, sewer

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BISMARCK — A white supremacist trying to turn a small North Dakota town into an Aryan enclave is being required to install running water and sewer in his home, as the Leith City Council works to update the town's ordinances.

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Craig Cobb says he will comply but that he also is pursuing a civil rights complaint with the state because he feels he is being unfairly targeted.

The City Council on Sunday approved a local law requiring water and sewer in occupied homes, as well as an ordinance preventing tents and campers from being set up on a lot in the city for more than 10 consecutive days, City Attorney Thomas Kelsch said Tuesday. The community that had 23 residents before Cobb arrived 1 ½ years ago is working to update planning and zoning ordinances that date back a century, and the council has imposed a building moratorium for up to six months while it completes the work.

“The ordinances we're passing apply to everybody in the city — they're not applying to Mr. Cobb directly,” Kelsch said. “It's not any type of discrimination. We're doing it for the health and safety of the people.”

Another couple in town that also would have been affected by the water and sewer ordinance has purchased a different home to comply, Kelsch said. Cobb sometime this week will be given a notice to comply within 30 days or face the possibility of a fine, a short jail stay or even condemnation of his property.

Cobb, 62, said he plans to install an internal water system using bottled distilled water and electrical composting toilets. He said the real issue is that the town is trying to force him out because of his beliefs and because of his efforts to buy up property and invite people with similar views to join him and create a voting majority.

“You would think the whole matter was merely about water and sewer. Those are just manipulations to defame me,” he said. “I can bring things up to standard lickety-split; meanwhile they just look oafish and foolish.”

Kelsch and Mayor Ryan Schock said the updating of ordinances is about ensuring a safe and healthy environment in town, and they are not worried about a civil rights complaint because they believe they are on solid legal ground.

“If you have a house, you want it livable. You want running water, and sewer,” Schock said. “This whole thing comes down to common sense.”

Cobb said it boils down to discrimination.

“It's because of my political and religious beliefs,” he said. “It's pretty clear to the entire world, now.”

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Follow Blake Nicholson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NicholsonBlake

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