Franciscans in Syracuse sue for being ‘repeatedly disturbed’ by loud concerts, marijuana market

Franciscans in Syracuse sue for being ‘repeatedly disturbed’ by loud concerts, marijuana market

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Syracuse, N.Y., Feb 23, 2022 / 17:07 pm (CNA).

The Conventual Franciscan friars at Assumption Church in Syracuse, New York are suing a music and event venue for disrupting their way of life through hosting loud concerts, blocking the friars’ access to church property, hosting illegal marijuana markets, and more.

Alien Opera House is the venue which has been hosting such events at what was formerly Assumption Church’s Parish Center. According to the Feb. 9 lawsuit, the property was sold to a developer, Steve Case, in 2017, and is being rented out to the venue.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the friars by the law firm Hancock Estabrook, alleges that Alien Opera House has hosted illegal marijuana markets which included “consumption events” on at least six occasions between December 2021 and Feb. 6. The suit also named Case’s company, 800 Block, as a defendant.

According to Assumption Church’s website, Case and another man, Troy Evans, founded 800 Block as they purchased multiple properties from the friars. 

The lawsuit, which calls for the “enforcement of deed restrictions, private nuisance, and injunctive relief relating to the use of certain real property by Defendants,” says that odor of marijuana has “infiltrated and permeated” the church’s buildings.

The friars, who are part of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, argue that the defendants are violating New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which prevents marijuana retailers from “locat[ing] a storefront…within two hundred feet of a house of worship.”

The defendants have also violated the Clean Indoor Air Act, the lawsuit alleges, by allowing their customers to smoke marijuana inside the buildings on the property, “which detrimentally impacts Assumption and its operations.”

After the lawsuit was initially filed, the marijuana market moved to a different location, Syracuse.com reported. However, it was forced to move from its new location as well, they reported.

On Feb. 11, a lawyer for the friars served a temporary restraining order against 800 Block and its lawyer, in addition to the entities that make up Alien Opera House.

The suit also alleges that Alien Opera House has been hosting concerts lasting until 2 a.m. which are “extremely disruptive to Assumption.” The suit compares the concerts to “activity in the nature of a night club.”

The lawsuit also says that the Alien Opera House activities have often blocked certain areas of the friars’ property, which they argue obstructs their right of access to their property.

Alien Opera House had posted photos of Assumption Church on their website, according to the lawsuit, which the friars say violates a legal agreement. 

“The depiction of these sacred symbols and icons at the Property, in conjunction with Alien Opera House’s disruptive and illegal conduct, violates the Covenant that the Property not be used for any purposes ‘which would bring discredit, ridicule, criticism and/or scandal upon [the religious and historical tradition and significance of the Buildings] or upon the [Roman] Catholic Church,’” the suit says.

That covenant was signed in 2017 during the transfer of the property to Case.

The lawsuit says that the friars sent a cease and desist letter Dec. 29, 2021 to the defendants demanding that they stop the illegal behavior and stop violating the covenant. The letter also demanded that an event which was to be held Jan. 2 be canceled. But that letter was ignored, the lawsuit says, and the Jan. 2 event the friars complained about was held anyways.

The activities at the former parish center have “unreasonably interfered with Assumption and the Friars’ right to the peaceful enjoyment and operation of their adjacent property and buildings,” the lawsuit alleges.

CNA contacted both the friars and Alien Opera House for a comment, but received no responses by time of publication.

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