Nary a day goes by that those of us on State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin’s media email list don’t log on and find one, two, maybe even three news releases keeping us abreast of the latest not-so-quiet act of heroism by the state’s chief financial officer.

From his factually challenged assaults on the Maine State Housing Authority, to his “Excitement at State Treasury” over a bond sale, to my all-time favorite “Treasurer Poliquin Battles Ken Altshuler on WGAN 560 Radio,” you’ve got to wonder how long it will be before the inbox lights up with “State Treasurer Walks Past Augusta Mirror Store and Likes What He Sees!”

But here’s a story about Poliquin that apparently hasn’t been deemed headline worthy. Call it “Poliquin Ticks Off Neighbors at Popham Beach. Again!”

“There’s no story here,” insisted Poliquin (without the slightest hint of irony) late Friday as he drove home from the State House complex.

Those neighbors would beg to differ.

“It’s not just us,” said Terry Wyman. “It’s Popham. It’s a very beautiful, quiet place. And this really goes against what’s always been there.”

Welcome to the Popham Beach Club, a private, members-only facility that sits on a 1.75-acre beachfront lot about a half mile from Popham Beach State Park.

Poliquin, who lives in Georgetown, bought the property from his parents back around 1990 when it was a collection of six rental cottages that had been in the family all the way back to 1968.

That changed in 2006, when he applied for and received permission from the town to tear down the cottages and build a sprawling, two-and-a-half story private clubhouse. He also got the green light to sell up to 150 club memberships to individuals and families who could use the facility and its 75 feet of beach as their exclusive slice of Maine’s coastal paradise.

More on how the club’s doing in a minute. First, a little background on the neighborhood:

Abutting one side of Poliquin’s enclave is Ocean View Park Campground, owned for the past four decades by Charles and Bernadette Konzelman of Phippsburg.

Back in 2000, Poliquin went after the Konzelmans, alleging they were in violation of the local land use ordinance and demanding that they shrink their operation. According to Bernadette, Poliquin looked out over the tents and campers one day and told her, “These are not my kind of people.”

The Konzelmans also remember being summoned before the Phippsburg Board of Appeals to find Poliquin not only had filled the wall with glossy charts and graphs detailing his many grievances against them, but also had brought in his own professional court reporter to capture every word anyone said.

“We sat there like two church mice,” recalled Bernadette. “We never opened our mouths. It was like, ‘Are we this bad?’ “

Apparently not. The board sided with the Konzelmans, prompting Poliquin to appeal to the Sagadahoc County Superior Court. He lost there too.

On the other side of Poliquin’s property we find Terry and Jean Wyman, who live in South Freeport during the winter but spend summers in a two-story cottage that’s been in Terry’s family since he was born in 1949.

Back in 2006, the Wymans went all the way to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court with their objection to having the Popham Beach Club just outside their second-floor bedroom window.

Specifically, they argued that the town was wrong to allow a “lesser buffer” than the normal 100-foot setback in exchange for Poliquin’s promise to shield his clubhouse from the Wymans’ cottage with a fence and a thick row of evergreens.

The Wymans ultimately lost their court fight. But they, along with the Konzelmans and some 45 other interested parties who objected in writing to the Popham Beach Club, did win several concessions before the local Planning Board gave Poliquin the go-ahead to build it.

Among the most important restrictions: The club would be limited to 150 people per day, could operate only from May through October and could not be rented out to non-member groups for private functions.

Which brings us to a hearing scheduled for Thursday evening before the Phippsburg Planning Board and Board of Selectmen to consider “a proposal for changes in the use of and time of operation of the Popham Beach Club.”

Why the proposed changes?

Well, it appears that this particular business model hasn’t quite panned out for Poliquin, who sold himself as a businessman par excellence before he finished a distant sixth in the seven-way race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination back in 2010.

Long story short, the Popham Beach Club hoped to sell all 150 of those memberships, which currently go for $1,950 per season. To date, it has six.

Theories abound as to why the project flopped: Poliquin points to the sluggish economy. At least a few neighbors point to the fact that a season pass to nearby Popham Beach State Park (like the club, it has showers) can be had for a mere $70 per carload.

(Me? I think the Popham Beach Club would have attracted a lot more comers if Poliquin took down the sign facing the road that reads, “You Are Being Filmed.”)

Whatever the reason, Poliquin’s problem is undeniable. His petition to the Planning Board cites the need “to improve the beach club’s cash flow during this difficult economy.”

And how does he plan to do that?

“I respectfully request an additional new business permit allowing year-round catered functions including but not limited to corporate meetings, family, church, civic gatherings and health retreats,” Poliquin wrote in his latest application to the local powers that be.

Goodbye, Popham Beach Club.

Hello, Party Central.

The Wymans, who five years later are still waiting for that evergreen buffer, have a growing pile of emails and letters on their kitchen counter — all from summer folks who can’t make it Thursday but have asked that their voices be added to the chorus of objections to what they see as a brazen attempt by Poliquin to get what he wanted all along.

“Why should we and everyone else in Popham further suffer for Mr. Poliquin’s failing business venture?” asks Terry Wyman in remarks he’ll deliver at the hearing. “Why do we have to compromise our existence in hopes that he can find some financial gain? Don’t we have some rights?”

The neighbors’ fears are many — not the least of which is that “catered” means not just food, but alcohol. And if you’ve lived around Popham Beach long enough, they say, you know that alcohol and curvy Route 209 are a formula for disaster.

Poliquin counters that all existing rules regarding bad behavior still will be enforced — the club’s six members have yet to cause a ruckus — and that this is truly no big deal.

“I’m abutted by a trailer park!” he said, referring to the Konzelmans’ campground. “A trailer park!”

As for his proposed change of clientele, Poliquin added, “That’s the beauty of the private sector. When you start a business, (sometimes) you have to make adjustments. People do it all the time.”

With or without a news release.

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:

[email protected]