A last-minute settlement agreement was presented to State District Judge Keith Williams on Monday, March 1st, as trial was about to get underway in the lawsuit brought by neighboring landowners against The Coming King Foundation (TCKF), a Texas nonprofit arts organization. TCKF plans to build a first class Sculpture Prayer Garden on 23 acres overlooking IH-10 and Highway 16, highlighted by the cross on top of a hill. Mesa Vista landowners suit prohibited the raising of the cross within the prayer garden.
The settlement agreement reached Monday allows the cross to be raised as planned putting an end to the 15-month property dispute and bringing peaceful a resolution and healing to this Texas Hill Country community.
Last month the Mesa Vista landowners lost their bid to have the case dismissed in their favor and Judge Williams ordered the trial to proceed on March 1st. Shortly thereafter, settlement negotiations were initiated by the landowners, which for the first time included an agreement to allow the cross to be raised on TCKF’s lot.“Once that point was conceded, both sides moved quickly to resolve differences and eventually agreed to a compromise”, said Kevin Young, attorney for TCKF. “We’re thankful that both sides could put away their swords and solve this in a Christian manner,” said Fern Lancaster, TCKF board member and treasurer.
“The Coming King Foundation will realize its vision of a cross and sculpture garden and the Mesa Vista residents will realize their goal of maintaining the privacy of their neighborhood,” said Mesa Vista homeowners’ attorney, Richard Mosty, in a prepared statement.
As part of the settlement, The Coming King Foundation will construct a solid fence on the site where the $2M, 70-ton cross will be located. The settlement also allows for lighting of the cross that is non-intrusive for residents of the subdivision and limited private access to the cross from Mesa Vista Lane, keeping the main entrance to the Garden on IH-10. In addition, TCKF will also pay the Mesa Vista neighbors $25,000 over the next several months as part of the settlement. Each side is responsible for paying its own attorney’s fees and legal expenses.
When asked whether he had won the case because the cross will go up, David Brock, co-counsel for TCKF said, “Everybody won. This agreement is respectful of everyone’s property rights and is better than a trial victory for either side.” TCKF board member and Vice President, Jim McKnight, added, “A peaceful resolution has been our desire and prayer since the lawsuit was filed. This is a great day for our community and now we can move forward.”
TCKF plans to raise the cross and complete the Garden as soon as sufficient funds are available. “Although we have incurred significant expense in our legal defense,” said TCKF board member and President Max Greiner Jr., “we are confident that God pays for what He ordains, and we invite our community, neighbors, friends and the greater Christian community to unite in support around this God-given vision and Sculpture Prayer Garden.”