NEW LONDON–A Superior Court judge has turned down an appeal by GOSA and others against a proposed 48-house development on the 75-acre Merritt Property on Fort Hill.

The decision in September, 2004, by Judge D. Michael Hurley upheld approval of the project in February, 2002, by the Town of Groton Planning Commission.

However, the project is not free to proceed because GOSA has a contract, signed April 14, 2003, to buy the property from F.L. Merritt Inc. for $1 million and set it aside as public open space. A developer, Ravenswood Construction LLC of Cheshire, claims to have a valid prior contract to buy the land, though its contract is not signed by Merritt.

Ravenswood has sued Merritt to enforce its asserted contract, and GOSA has joined Merritt voluntarily as a defendant. Merritt has countersued. A pre-trial hearing on the case is scheduled for December.

GOSA and the eight town residents who filed the appeal in March, 2002, haven’t said yet whether they will contest Mr. Hurley’s decision. The appellants had contended in their appeal, among other things, that the commission failed to consider less environmentally harmful alternatives to the plan, which they said would degrade the Palmer Cove ecosystem by disturbing two watercourses that run from the property into the cove. They said further that the commission didn’t enforce subdivision rules on dead-end streets and granted subdivision approval to a corporation, MacPherson-Johnston, whose certificate of incorporation had been revoked. Ravenswood hopes to succeed MacPherson-Johnston as developer.