An Orthodox Jewish group scored a major victory on Wednesday against the president of a local homeowners association who filed suit to stop worshippers from holding meetings inside of a neighborhood home.
A judge tossed the complaint brought against the group by David Schneider, president of the Highlands of McKamy, a homeowners association in Dallas, Texas, according to WFAA-TV.
In suing to stop the meetings, Schneider argued that traffic and parking could become problematic if the group continued meeting in the neighborhood, also citing fears over selling his home if prospective buyers realize he's "right across the street from a church or synagogue."
"What this means is any church can move into any derestricted neighborhood in the entire state of Texas, regardless of any agreements that are made," Schneider said after the judge's ruling.
Collin County Judge Jill Willis disagreed with Schneider's sentiment, ruling that the Orthodox Jewish worshippers can continue gathering in a private home, concluding — at least for the moment — a battle that began in 2013 over homeowners association rules.
The group began meeting in the Highlands of McKamy neighborhood back in 2011, with Schneider later claiming that the house was not being properly used as a mere residence. He subsequently sued homeowner Judith Gothelf, her son Mark and Toras Chaim, the congregation at the center of the dispute, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Rabbi Yaakov, who leads Toras Chaim, said that he is thankful over the results of the lawsuit and to the Liberty Institute, a conservative legal firm that defended his congregation.
"We are thankful that this distressing season has ended with a favorable ruling, protecting our right to worship," Rich told WFAA-TV. "I am incredibly grateful that Liberty Institute successfully defended our case, and that the law has upheld our right to live out our faith within our homes."
He continued, "I pray that today marks the beginning of a new era of tolerance and peace in our community."
About a dozen people meet for prayer three times per day at the home, with a larger group of 20 to 30 people worshipping there on Friday and Saturday nights. Most people reportedly walk to meetings, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Many in the neighborhood reportedly wanted the lawsuit to cease and were not happy that Schneider and the homeowners association continued the battle against the congregation. In fact, some of those opposed are now challenging the association's right to represent them in a case against the congregation in the first place — a separate challenge that Willis will rule on Friday.
Schneider is waiting for additional details to come from the judge before he decides whether appealing is the best path forward.