ABERDEEN, Scotland, Oct. 12, 2007 -- Isolated on his patch of land in Menie, 13 miles from Aberdeen, Scotland, 55-year-old quarry worker Michael Forbes is taking on the American millionaire and New York real estate development tycoon Donald Trump.
Trump wants to develop a $1 billion luxury golf course and hotel resort in Menie Links, stretching along the North Sea from the Scottish Heritage sand dunes in the north, to the town of Barmedie to the south.
In the middle of it lies Forbes' 23 acres. And Forbes won't sell his land.
"All my history is here," Forbes told ABC News when we paid a visit to his farm. "My grandfather, my uncle came to fish here, I'm last in the line and I will see it through."
If it wins a favorable vote from the local planning commission Oct. 30, the Trump International Golf Links complex would span over 800 acres.
The golf course, with its inestimable view over the beach, would be complemented by two residential areas where Trump plans to build 500 houses as well as time-share holiday homes and a five-star hotel. On the current blueprint, however, in addition to their view of the ocean, Trump's rich and famous clients would have a view of one of Forbes' hangars.
"We've tried to buy his house from him, and since he said no, we offered him money to fix up the driveway to his house," Trump International Golf Links project director Neil Hobday told ABC News. "We've even offered him a job for life doing whatever job he wants on the estate, and we offered to take care of his mother. We're trying to be really fair here."
Forbes claims that his ancestors fished for salmon in the North Sea for generations. Although the stock is now very poor, he still fishes as a hobby whenever his job at the local quarry allows him to, in order "to keep the tradition going," he explained.
"It's a dying trade," he said. "But the Trump people now are denying me access."
It's Getting Personal
Indeed, isolated amid the land purchased by Trump, Forbes now has to take the highway to his last fish net, south of the estate. But Hobday insists it was a common agreement.
"He told me he had fished one salmon all season," Hobday said, "one salmon, and that he didn't care."
The bad blood between Trump and Forbes stepped up a notch on Monday when Trump told reporters about "a gentleman who has a small area near the site" whom everyone understood to be Forbes.
"But go down and take a look at how badly maintained that piece of property is," Trump told assembled journalists, adding, "it's disgusting to look at it -- rusted tractor, rusting oil cans. ... I actually asked him, 'Are you doing this on purpose to try to make it look bad so I pay some more money?'"
Although ABC News did not see any oil cans when it visited Forbes, the farm is in a bit of shambles. Old tractor wheels lie in the open air, a couple of chickens mix happily with a family of cats and a Scottish flag flies over it all.
"The tractor is rusty because it's the one I use on the beach, and salt water gets onto it," Forbes said.
As for the attack on his lifestyle, Forbes doesn't think much of it.
"You know, they've got a nickname for him up there," Forbes said, gesturing to the houses on the plateau directly across Trump's proposed resort, "Slippery Sam and the Gang."
As the issue becomes more personal, both claim personal attachment to the land.
"My uncle lives behind the hill, my brother owns the shack over there," Forbes told ABC News, pointing to the horizon. "I was born a few miles over there. The house is long gone now."
Forbes' 85-year-old mother, Molly, lives in a little house across from Forbes, which she's named "Paradise."
"My mother loves her house, and they want me to shift her to suit him?" Forbes asked.
But Trump also can trace his lineage back to Scotland. His mother is from Lewis, off the Scottish coast, which is why, he told reporters, Scotland was a special place for him.
"She passed away a number of years ago, at 88 years old," he said. "So I've always had a tremendous feeling for Scotland."
But residents near his proposed development noted Trump's family did not live nearby.
"He's not from here, his grandmother is from miles away," said Margaret Davidson. "She's from Skye, that area, about 500 miles north of here."
Margaret Davidson moved to Menie three weeks ago from a family farm half a mile away. They knew of the Trump development, but had to move when Margaret required the use of a wheelchair.
"It took us two years and a half to get permission to build one house here, but Trump is going to get a special dispensation," said Margaret's husband, Norman.
Menie, he said, is in a "green belt," a zone protected for its wildlife, where building permissions are hard to come by.
"If he does the golf it will be nice, it will be well done," Margaret said. "But if Trump gets everything he wants, it will create precedents."
Although the Davidsons do not mind their new neighbor, they do not trust him either.
"They'll promise you anything," Norman said, "even accommodation for 400 workers so it would give jobs for local people."
Under the Trump proposal, the apartment complex would accommodate the resort's employees, but locals remain suspicious.
"This is not an area where we are desperate for jobs," Councilor Debra Storr told ABC News.
Storr, who sits on both the planning committee and the policy committee that will vote on Trump's proposal later this month, is well aware of her constituents' reticence.
The 18th Hole
Locals, she says, are mostly concerned about the building of what golfers call "the back nine" — the bottom half of the golf course. Trump wants to build it on a Scottish National Heritage site, a natural sand dome of exquisite beauty.
Under the proposed plan, the dunes, which move a few meters up the coast every year, would be stabilized by marine and fescue grass.
The location of the last holes is a crucial part of Trump's vision of Menie Links. He and his team want to take advantage of the natural elevation of the dome and of the striking ocean view to make it the best asset of the complex.
"The back nine needs that specific layout to finish your round of golf," Hogday said. "This will make it tougher and more enjoyable."
But for that vision to come true, Trump needs to obtain permission to immobilize the sand dome. Earlier this year, Trump International submitted a $400,000 dossier to the Scottish Heritage Society, in which marine biologists, archaeologists, ornithologists, zoologists and other environmental experts praised the project's eco-friendliness and sustainability. According to Hogday, so critical is the Scottish Heritage Society's permission that the rest of the development hangs in the air.
"If we didn't get it," he told ABC News, "I think we'd have to think very carefully on whether we want to continue with the project."
But on the plateau overlooking the sand dome, Trump's new neighbors do not care much for golf.
David Milne bought his house 15 years ago and has recently finished building a sun deck, from which he was hoping to enjoy the natural vista, and not the swing of rich Londoners and their friends.
"I am busy extending my house with a view to live in here for the rest of my life," he told ABC News.
Milne is one of six owners whose land lies between the proposed golf course and the housing development project.
"They want to build these atrocious building, these time-share flats," he said, "but they are just behind my house."
In order to organize Menie Links residents against the Trump development plan, Milne has created a Web site, www.meniescotland.co.uk, in which he states that the plan is "inappropriate, and is an indication of how insensitive to the Aberdeenshire coast the Trump organisation is."
"The sand dome is a very specific, very rare site in the U.K.," he told ABC News. "If you damage it by stabilizing it, it is after all dynamic and mobile, so you kill it."
The Price Is Not Right
Like Forbes, Milne said he is categorical about his refusal to sell. In any case, he said Trump's offers have been derisory.
"I received a written offer about two weeks ago, equivalent to the sales price of a one-bedroom apartment in Aberdeen," he said.
Like him, he said, his neighbors have received offers in the region of $300,000 to $350,000.
"There is no reason for us to sell," he added.
If the price was right, Norman Davidson thinks more residents would be willing to relocate.
"He's got to offer them realistic prices for their property," he said, "because they have to buy houses afterwards, and properties."
"In the first meeting in 2006, they told us they only wanted to be good neighbors," said Milne. "They haven't shown that. The only way for them to be good neighbors now is to leave."
Despite his neighbors' suspicions, Trump had reassuring words for the Menie community.
"I believe that we have the ability in terms of the land and in terms of the location, and in terms of Scotland and in terms of my willingness to commit a tremendous amount of money, to build the greatest golf course anywhere in the world," he said.
Reassuring the press, he reminded them of a former controversial development plan of his, the Trump World Tower in New York City.
"People fought, they were picketing, they were this, they were that. Now many of the people live in the building," he said. "They love it."
But Forbes won't move into one of Trump's houses, even if it means living on an island, surrounded by "Slippery Sam and the gang."
"It's mine," he said, smiling. "It's my island."