Leith fighting to keep town orderly hires Mandan attorney
City officials in Leith are preparing a moratorium to prevent new building or trailers until the town’s historic ordinances are updated and zoning is adopted.
Leith Mayor Ryan Schock says the moratorium is a reaction to the white supremacists that have moved in with plans to take over the town’s government.
“If they want an influx of people and double the population we need some kind of organization to go with it,”Schock said.
Craig Cobb, a hate crimes fugitive, has purchased property in Leith, population 24, and is inviting other white supremacists to create an all-white enclave in charge of the city.
A family associated with the National Socialist Movement, formerly the American Nazi Party, moved into Cobb’s house 10 days ago. Flags with Nazi swastikas are flying in front of the house, which is littered with fallen branches and other debris outside and isn’t hooked up to water or a sewage system.
The city hired Mandan attorney and former Mandan City Commissioner Tom Kelsch to prepare the moratorium, update ordinances and create zoning and land use documents. Kelsch will be paid with money donated by community supporters, many from other countries, to a Leith Legal Defense Fund. He said he’ll donate some of his time to the cause, but he’s not working pro bono.
Kelsch said if the city uses its emergency authority, the moratorium could go into effect within 10 days.
The town also plans to require residents hook up to water and a sewer system. The Oregon family that moved into Cobb’s place with their five home-schooled children told the Tribune it is using an outhouse on the lot next door.
Cobb said the family can live in his house and he’ll move in a trailer someone donated to him.
Kelsch said sanitation is a serious issue and a new ordinance could provide time for homeowners to come into compliance.
“It does impact other property owners and themselves,” Kelsch said.
An ordinance may be the only way to force the water and sewer issue.
Keith Johnson, administrator of the Custer District Health Unit, said it appears there is no legal means in court to force Cobb or anyone to put water and sewer in his residence because neither Grant County nor Leith has adopted a standard building code. State plumbing codes say how water and sewer should be installed, but not that they must be, Johnson said.
After Friday, the health unit and the city can start to clean up several properties in town that have been condemned.
One of those condemned properties is the dilapidated creamery building and outhouse next to Cobb’s place that he deeded over to Jeff Schoep, commander of the National Socialist Movement, when Schoep was in town last month. Another is an old house that Cobb sold on Craig’s list to a Michigan man who says he’s not associated with the white supremacists.
Cobb did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
By Lauren Donovan, Lee News