Boyle sells Toyota of Portsmouth. Here’s why long legal fight with city will continue.

Jim Boyle Toyota

Jim Boyle inside his former Toyota of Portsmouth dealership, which he sold last week to McGovern Auto Group. (Courtesy photo)

Jim Boyle, the longtime owner of Toyota of Portsmouth, has sold the dealership to McGovern Auto Group.

Boyle had owned and operated Toyota of Portsmouth — which is prominently located off the Route 1 Bypass — since September 2001, he said Monday morning.

“I’m not getting any younger. I’m 65,” Boyle said, when asked about why he decided to sell the dealership.

Boyle and his attorney, John Kuzinevich, confirmed while Boyle sold the dealership he did not sell the land it’s located on or the land around it.

That means, both men said, a nearly 20-year legal dispute between Boyle and the city of Portsmouth is not over.

Bittersweet moment

In fact, Kuzinevich believes, the sale of the dealership will have “very little effect” on the ongoing legal dispute.

“The lawsuit was not about the operation of the Toyota dealership, it was about Mr. Boyle’s use of the land,” he said.

Boyle agreed, stating that his “lawsuit with the city has never been about Toyota or cars, it’s strictly about the city’s legal meddling and zoning.”

Boyle replied “who knows?” when asked when or how the legal dispute might end.

“The wheels of justice turn very slowly,” Boyle added.

The sale of the dealership became official last Wednesday, according to Boyle, who declined to state the sales price.

He called the sale of the dealership “a bittersweet moment,” and pointed to “the distractions I had to deal with because of the city. But we keep moving on.”

The property where the dealership sits was most recently appraised by the city at $5.8 million, according to city records.

The legal dispute between the city and Boyle began about 20 years ago when the car dealership owner filed a lawsuit seeking the removal of a city sewer line that runs through his property at 150 Greenleaf Avenue.

The fight over the city’s sewer line has led to multiple lawsuits, numerous court hearings and trials, and even arguments in front of the state Supreme Court.

The city at one point sought to take a portion of Boyle’s land by eminent domain but a Superior Court judge ruled against the city in 2018.

Portsmouth and Boyle have court date in May

Portsmouth City Attorney Susan Morrell acknowledged she had not heard about the sale of the dealership when reached Monday morning.

She too confirmed there has been “no indication that any property was transferred. He still owns the property.”

The two sides are scheduled to appear in Rockingham County Superior Court on May 13, Morrell said.

She said there is “no reason to believe” a settlement will be reached between the two sides before then.

Kuzinevich replied, “I don’t put it as a high probability right now,” when asked about a potential settlement.

Prime location of dealership touted

“Every dealer group in the country tried to buy it. I know Matt (McGovern, CEO and founder of McGovern Auto Group) and I knew he would do the right things with it,” Boyle said Monday.

The dealership’s location off the Route 1 Bypass at the intersection of Greenleaf Avenue is “the finest piece of real estate in the Seacoast,” Boyle said.

Combine the location and facility with the fact “Toyota is the No. 1 retail brand in the world,” and Boyle believes the dealership will become even more successful.

“They’re just going to be able to add to what we were doing with all their resources, it’s going to be great for the customers,” Boyle said.

Current employees staying on at Toyota of Portsmouth

The newly renamed McGovern Toyota of Portsmouth will offer more than 250 new Toyota vehicles and 100 certified used vehicles, according to McGovern Auto Group.

Customers will be able to shop from 2,500 pre-owned vehicles across the company’s dealerships, according to the company.

“Toyota of Portsmouth has been a trusted resource for Seacoast drivers for years,” said Matt McGovern in a prepared statement. “As we welcome the Portsmouth team to our growing McGovern family, we are honored to build upon that foundation while infusing the location with our signature commitment to unrivaled selection, service, and overall experience.” 

McGovern plans to retain the dealership’s existing employees, and to expand the team by 10 new positions in the coming months, the company’s announcement states.

McGovern Auto Group also owns Toyota of Nashua.

Boyle said he’s known Matt McGovern for years and the dealership under the new ownership group “is in good hands.”

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