Lawyers for the city and a University Heights synagogue have signed a permanent injunction barring the synagogue from operating at 4464 Churchill Blvd., which has been placed on the market for sale.
The final order was signed Feb. 17 by Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Andrew J. Santoli, University Heights Law Director Luke F. McConville and Mark I. Wachter, representing Chaim Cohen, David Pollack, Kehillat Heichal Hakodesh and 4464 Churchill, LLC.
Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan said the city would not have been satisfied simply dropping the case because of different representations on the intentions of the board members.
“They have changed their position multiple times on this issue, so rather than just dismissing the case based upon their return to not opening, we have asked them to agree to an order,” Brennan said. “So if they change their mind even again, we have a court order that tells them no, you may not do that.”
Board members sent a Jan. 3 email to neighbors spelling out plans to open on Feb. 6. The city sent a cease-and-desist letter Jan. 11 citing work that had been done to the structure without a building permit. Brennan first saw a petition signed by 27 neighbors on Jan. 27.
“They told us they weren’t going to proceed and then they changed their position and made an announcement to the community (Feb. 3) that they were opening in two days, which is what led to our filing the court action,” Brennan said in reference to a Feb. 3 email, which told neighbors the house was going on the market. “So once it became a court matter, we wanted to see it through to its conclusion and have a court order that is binding on them going forward.”
Cohen told the Cleveland Jewish News he and other board members were not going forward with plans to find a new site.
“This whole thing burnt us down,” he said Feb. 9.
The city received a temporary injunction on Feb. 5 barring the house from being used as a synagogue. The Feb. 17 permanent restraining order allows the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, the University Heights police chief or any law enforcement officer to enforce it.
“The restrained parties are hereby restrained and permanently enjoined from operating a synagogue, shul, religious learning center or place of religious assembly at the premises and/or interfering with the actions of plaintiff and plaintiff’s employees, officials, contractors, and agents for all purposes relating to the actions described above,” the injunction reads. “The presence of any of the restrained parties upon or in the premises in contravention of this order shall constitute a trespass which may be deemed contempt of this court.”