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Published: Wednesday, 6/25/2003

Lagrange council protests Tom Noe

Twenty Lagrange Village Council members assembled outside Lucas County Republican Party Headquarters yesterday to protest what they claim was party member Tom Noe's involvement with real estate investor Westhaven Group.

However, Mr. Noe, husband of Bernadette Noe, county GOP chairman, denied any personal involvement with Westhaven.

“Neither myself nor my wife have any personal investments in Westhaven Group,” Mr. Noe said in a telephone interview. “I myself have one corporate-related investment, a business that I run that is involved with Westhaven outside of Toledo.”

Additionally, Mr. Noe claimed the council had ulterior motives for the demonstration. “This is a very, very poor attempt by Lagrange Development Corp. to slander my wife through me. It's pure, pure politics. I'm sure the Democrats are behind this. They're jealous of my wife's success as chairman of the Republican Party.”

Westhaven Group, a real estate investment group that owns about 85 properties in the Lagrange area, offers poor to moderate-income home buyers high-interest loans on their properties for a period of two years. Village council members claim the homes owned by Westhaven are “substandard,” and low-income buyers often lose their down payments if they can't make their payments.

“Westhaven is depleting and damaging our housing stocks in the area, and victimizing those who can least afford it,” Beth Lewandowski, village council president, said.

“It is our goal to strike at them through their investors, and stop them from developing in this area.”

The village council, an independent arm of the Lagrange Development Corp., is a group of families and community members interested in organizing and maintaining “positive development” in the Lagrange area, Ms. Lewandowski said.

Dave Squillante, an attorney for Westhaven, was critical of the demonstration's motives.

“This is grandstanding - an attempt to embarrass law-abiding citizens,” he said. “And it's not helpful while we are undergoing talks with Lagrange Development Corp. about development in the area.”

Mr. Squillante said a tentative agreement has been reached between his client and Lagrange Development to limit Westhaven's acquisition of properties in Lagrange Village. He refused to offer details.

Ms. Lewandowski denied Lagrange Development had anything to do with the protest. “We are a totally independent arm of the Lagrange Development Corp. They had nothing to do with planning or anything,” said Ms. Lewandowski, though she admitted Terry Glazer, director of Lagrange Development and a Democrat, was at the protest in an unofficial capacity. He was unavailable for comment.

Ms. Lewandowski and other council members said they will continue to picket people they believe to be Westhaven Group investors.

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