A bitter land dispute between Paul Coulombe, the high-profile multimillionaire who has redeveloped the Boothbay Harbor Country Club, and a couple who own a horse stable abutting the back edge of the golf course will go before a judge this month.

David Soley, Coulombe’s attorney, filed a motion last week for a temporary restraining order against Derek and Rebecca Abbott, a local couple who own Kick Start Stables, where they lodge horses and plan to build a therapeutic riding facility. The motion was a response to the Abbotts’ decision to let some of their horses roam on his golf course, which they said they did to protest Coulombe’s construction of what they call a “spite fence.”

A judge did not grant the restraining order, and instead advised both sides to refrain from going on the other’s property until a hearing set for Aug. 23.

The land battle goes back to last December, when Coulombe first sued the couple, seeking to limit their access to a 50-foot-wide right-of-way from the Abbotts’ property across Coulombe’s land to Country Club Road. Sumner Lipman, an attorney representing the Abbotts, countersued Coulombe and the case is now mired in court.

The right-of-way is described in court documents as including a portion of road that is on the country club property. Before the golf course expansion, the Abbotts had been using the road to access their farm because much of the easement is unimproved and impassable by car. Coulombe has argued that it’s now too close to the expanded golf course.

On March 3, Coulombe and the Abbotts agreed to an arrangement granting temporary access to the right-of-way pending the outcome of the dueling lawsuits, but less than a month later, the Abbotts terminated that agreement.

Tension has mounted since Coulombe’s high-end course reopened for business in May after an ambitious redesign.

The Abbotts say one of Coulombe’s employees dumped a large pile of tar on their property, and about two weeks ago Coulombe authorized the construction of a nearly 9-foot-tall fence between the two properties, limiting the Abbotts’ access to the road.

Court filings indicate that “the purpose of the fence is to protect people on the Abbott property from errant golf balls, and to screen the Abbott property – which is unsightly in its present condition – from the view of people using the course.”


Lipman, in a July 21 email to Coulombe’s attorney, called the recently constructed fence a violation of state statute. Maine law prohibits “spite fences,” which are defined as “any fence or other structure in the nature of fence, unnecessarily exceeding 6 feet in height, maliciously kept and maintained for the purpose of annoying the owners or occupants of adjoining property.”

“Unless this fence is removed today by 4 p.m., there will be a horse on the 14th tee to greet his golfers,” Lipman wrote.

The next day, golf course general manager John Suczynski and superintendent Robert Wyllie discovered hoof prints on the 14th tee box, the closest hole to the Abbotts’ property and the easement.

“These hoof prints were very distressing to me,” Wyllie wrote in an affidavit, calling them “ugly, unprofessional and unsightly.”

In a follow-up email July 23, Lipman acknowledged that the Abbotts did bring horses onto the course and said that the land dispute should be settled in court, not with fences. He said his clients would not back down.

“We will meet this infringement on my client’s rights with actions in kind,” he wrote. “I would strongly suggest you get control of your client and make him remove the illegal fences.”

By July 27, Soley, Coulumbe’s attorney, filed the temporary restraining order.

“Plaintiff has been forced to bring this motion as a result of defendants’ wanton, malicious and spiteful conduct in entering onto land of the Boothbay Harbor Country Club,” the motion reads. “There is no justification whatsoever for defendants’ conduct, which is animated purely by spite and ill will.”


Neither Coulombe nor the Abbotts would comment on their ongoing battle, citing the pending litigation.

Coulombe has become something of a polarizing figure in the community since he moved to the peninsula full time in 2012 after selling his Lewiston-based liquor company, White Rock Distilleries, for $605 million.

He has invested a large chunk of his fortune into the community – particularly the golf course, which he bought for $1.4 million in early 2013 and has put at least $50 million into. He also has donated to dozens of well-loved local organizations, including the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, the Boothbay Opera House and the YMCA.

Some locals, though, have bristled at Coulombe’s plans and have criticized the way he has used his wealth. He built a lavish mansion on Southport and blasted a rock ledge to accommodate an infinity swimming pool. He also tried to have the nearby harbor dredged to allow passage for his yacht.

When the Abbotts bought their property in 2013, Coulombe was still in the early stages of his ambitious overhaul of the golf course that borders their land on two sides. Before he was done, he had purchased dozens of properties in and around the golf course and demolished several houses to make room for his expansion. One property owner, George Whitten, who initially refused to sell to Coulombe, was given an ultimatum.

“I said, ‘We can do two things: I can offer you enough money to pay whatever you’ve got in it, or I can put the range in and put a big black net around your house. So whichever way you want to do it, I’m OK with,’ ” Coulombe said in an interview in May.

The next morning, Whitten called and agreed to sell.

In a previous interview, Lipman acknowledged that he’s become an enemy of Coulombe, saying that someone needs to stand up to him.

“If you don’t sell, he makes life miserable. He’s vindictive,” Lipman said. “He basically told my clients, as a way of trying to get them to give up, ‘I’ve got a lot more money than you.’ He’s a bully. The bully of Boothbay.”


The original plans for the construction of Kick Start Stables were done by Knickerbocker Group, a local firm whose president, Steve Malcom, has been Coulombe’s right-hand man. Knickerbocker built Coulombe’s mansion on Southport and also oversaw construction of the new clubhouse at Boothbay Harbor Country Club.

Coulombe hopes to add a four-star hotel and condos on the golf course property and also wants to build a village of boutique shops nearby. For the latter piece, Coulombe has advocated reconfiguring the traffic pattern on Route 27 into a roundabout.

Some townspeople have balked at that $3.4 million project, even though no taxpayer dollars would be used and Coulombe would pay for nearly all of it. There will be a townwide vote in November on the roundabout.

Soley doesn’t understand why people find his client controversial.

“My honest personal perspective on Paul Coulombe is that much of Maine is struggling, and that we owe him a tremendous amount of admiration and respect for being willing to commit so much of his time, energy and resources into building us a better place to live and work,” Soley said.


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