Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Adult business sign draws objections in West Toledo

Neighbors protest near Westwood Arcade


Library Village residents Jodie Banaszak, left, Michelle Glanville, Beth Jones, and Jennifer Lahna join the rally against the not-yet opened adult arcade. A total of about 50 people turned out yesterday.

The Blade/Lori King
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From beneath a sign showcasing two scantily dressed women, residents of West Toledo's Library Village neighborhood chanted, "No more porno."

Nearly 50 people showed up Saturday to protest the new -- but not-yet opened -- adult arcade that will replace the former Westwood Art Theater on Sylvania Avenue, where pornographic films were shown.

"Why would anyone want a business like that in their neighborhood?" asked Jennifer Lahna, who has lived in Library Village for 36 years.

"It's not like anyone here is going to walk over there for our sex fix," she added, motioning toward the residents who gathered in the Longfellow Elementary School parking lot before walking to the nearby arcade.

The Lucas County auditor's Web site lists the building's owner as TWT Sylvania Ltd., with a mailing address of the Lorraine Motor Hotel, 1117 Jefferson Ave.

The owner of that property is listed as Fatmeh Mufleh, who could not be reached for comment Saturday.

The group of residents -- including Toledo City Councilman Lindsay Webb -- mainly agreed that the most pressing issue is the arcade's sign, which has a triple X over the two scantily clad women and advertises "XXX DVDs" and "accessories." Several residents said they want the sign taken down, or at least changed, to be less provocative.

The type of business, although it isn't ideal for the neighborhood, is the secondary issue, several residents agreed.

"It's mostly the signage, but the customers there will obviously not be the people you want around a school and children," said Bill Siebemaler, who has lived in the neighborhood for 10 years.

Michelle Glanville, who has lived in the area for 15 years, said, "The signage is horrific."

When Ms. Webb addressed the residents Saturday, she said she backed them 100 percent on their mission to get the arcade out of the neighborhood. "We've got to stop the sex industry from coming into the commercial corridor," she said.

Several decades ago, the city passed an ordinance that stated sexually oriented businesses had to be in areas zoned for industry. But because the Westwood was opened long before those regulations, it was grandfathered in, Ms. Webb explained.

A "loophole" in the law allows the new arcade to be there if it opens within a year of the Westwood's closing, she added.

Nancy Westmeyer, who has lived next to the Westwood for six years, said relatives are "leery to come visit me" because of the business being run next to her.

Ms. Westmeyer said she has not considered leaving because of the business even though she wants "to see it gone. I don't want to be driven out."

The sign for the arcade went up about a month ago, residents said. It wasn't until a Neighborhood Block Watch meeting last week that residents started to rally to protest the new business.

Now, they're working together to do whatever they have can to prevent the arcade from opening.

"The main thing is the sign," Ms. Lahna said. "Get rid of the sign, and we'll work on the rest later. … I'm flabbergasted that the city is even allowing the sign."

"We're not saying, 'Close your business' " Ms. Lahna added. "Just don't put it in a residential area. We'll help you move."

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com or 419-724-6054.

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