- Associated Press - Monday, May 23, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The small town of Antler broke the law when it razed a building that was desired by white supremacist Craig Cobb, according to the North Dakota Health Department.

The community of about two dozen people could face tens of thousands of dollars in fines, but that’s unlikely as long as the proper paperwork is filled out, department Environmental Scientist Jane Kangas said.

Antler in February demolished the nearly century-old building that Cobb wanted to turn into a church. The debris was buried in a hole, and Kangas said the town should have applied for a waiver from a law requiring burial in an approved landfill. The state also has no record that the building was inspected for asbestos.

Antler Mayor Bruce Hanson said the building had no asbestos, and he is annoyed by what he considers needless meddling by the state.

“I don’t know what their problem is,” Hanson said. “They’re worried about something potentially harmful in there. There wasn’t.”

The mayor noted that Antler had a private contractor inspect the building, which was basically a shell of concrete blocks and rotten timber.

Still, Kangas said, residents can’t bury waste anywhere they want.

“We want to make sure it’s on high ground, not near a water source,” she said.

The state is requiring Antler fill out a waste disposal variance form, note on the property deed that there’s waste buried on site, and outline the steps the town will take to ensure a similar incident doesn’t happen again.

“We’re going to try to do what they want us to do, and hopefully they’ll leave us alone,” Hanson said.

Cobb, who lives in nearby Sherwood, tried to acquire land in Antler but was thwarted when the city bought up all of the vacant property. The razing of the building got rid of an eyesore and also marked a fitting end to the city’s ordeal, according to Hanson.

Antler isn’t the only town to run into trouble with the state over such a gesture aimed at Cobb. Leith, which Cobb unsuccessfully tried to turn into a white enclave, burned down condemned buildings after his departure - some of which Cobb once owned - to clean up the community. The state crime bureau investigated, and Leith Mayor Ryan Schock ended up facing a misdemeanor charge of failing to control or report a dangerous fire. The charge ultimately was dropped.

Cobb is serving four years of probation for terrorizing and menacing residents of Leith in 2013. He has told The Associated Press that he thinks he wasn’t treated fairly by either Leith or Antler.

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

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