LONDON - When fisherman and farmer Michael Forbes looks at his 23 acres on the wind-scoured coastline of northeastern Scotland, he sees home, a humble jumble of a place where the salmon fishing is good and his 83-year-old mother lives in a cozy trailer.
When Donald Trump looks at Forbes' land, he sees a sliver of his latest mega-development plan: Europe's largest golf and housing resort, a 1,400-acre, $2 billion complex of two championship courses and hundreds of hotel rooms, houses and time-share villas a few miles north of Aberdeen.
The vastly different views of the down-home Scotsman and the flamboyant New Yorker came to a head in October when Trump offered Forbes about $790,000 for his property - well above market value.
The Scot said no. "This place is not for sale," Forbes, 55, said in a telephone interview. "He seems to think everything is for sale."
The standoff is at the center of a controversy over Trump's latest megaproject that is firing passions so deep that a British businessman this week offered to pay more than $1.5 million for the land just to stand in Trump's way.
When local government officials rejected the project last week, Trump threatened to walk away - perhaps to go over to Northern Ireland, where government ministers said they would welcome his big-bucks development.
The Scottish government has taken took control of Trump's application, saying the plan "raises issues of importance" that require consideration at his level.
That move reflected the eagerness of much of the local Aberdeen business community to proceed with Trump's economy-charging project.
More than 12,000 people have signed a petition on the Web site of the British prime minister's office, supporting Trump. And officials at Aberdeen's Evening Express newspaper said they had received 5,000 online petition signatures and 1,000 handwritten letters of support, swamping opposition.
"It's a great project; it will be the greatest golf course anywhere in the world," Trump said in a telephone interview, adding that he was confident that the Scottish government would approve his plan.
But Sustainable Aberdeenshire, an environmental group opposed to what it calls the "Trump steamroller," argues on its Web site that the case against the project is so strong that Salmond's government will reject it.
Environmentalists argue that Trump's plan would blight the landscape. The Trump plan calls for planting grass on a section of dune to prevent it from drifting in Scotland's rough weather.
Trump and his project manager, George Sorial, said the development would be a tremendous economic boon for the region, creating 1,400 permanent full-time jobs and housing for 400 workers, and adding more than $100 million a year to the region's economy.
Critics said Trump is overstating the benefit to average Scots. The project would create mansions for rich golfers, said Anne Johnstone, a columnist for the Glasgow Herald.
All sides agree that much of the dispute is over Trump himself and his brash personality.
Forbes first met the billionaire New Yorker when the man walked onto his property to say hello. "I wasn't very impressed with him at all," Forbes recalled.
Forbes said the encounter developed into a shouting and swearing match; Trump said that no one shouted or swore and that it was "a very nice meeting."
Forbes said he had been angered when Trump, at a local hearing, called his property "disgusting." Trump recalled using the word
about the land, which he said was littered with rusting cars and other debris.
They agreed on one point:
Forbes on Trump: "He's a greedy man, that's all he is."
Trump on Forbes: "The reality with him is he got very greedy."