CARMEL, N.Y. (CN) – A man says a co-op’s attempt to evict him for running a church out of his home violates his civil rights. Anthony Bondi Jr. and Canopus Realty sued one another in Putnam County Court – and the state has sided with Bondi.
Canopus claims its members, who run the co-op by majority vote, do not want their neighbors to run businesses out of their homes, or to advertise events.
But Bondi, backed in his lawsuit by the New York State Division of Human Rights, claims the co-op is selectively enforcing rules, as it lets other members run home offices.
The co-op in Putnam Valley, N.Y., has 22 houses on 15 acres.
Bondi says he is leader of the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church of America. He advertises weekly services and observances of holy days at his home. Canopus claims that allowing Bondi free rein would create a situation where “anyone at all, with good intentions or bad – no one can be sure – is invited to invade the tranquility and security of the community.”
But Bondi says Canopus is discriminating against his religion. He says he has the right to conduct religious services in the privacy of his home.
Bondi co-founded the church in 2002, as part of The Former Exarchate of The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria in the Americas, according to the organization’s Web site. The Web site states that prayer meetings in private homes allow members to “focus on spiritual growth and faithfulness to Orthodoxy rather than on meeting a monthly mortgage.”
Canopus, represented by Richard Ebeling of Pleasantville, seeks declaratory judgment that it is not violating Bondi’s civil rights in evicting him.
Bondi, represented by Robert Goldstein with the New York State Division of Human Rights, seeks punitive damages and a ruling that he can continue to hold services for the 10 to 15 people who attend Sunday services.