HARTFORD — A three-judge panel of the Connecticut Appellate Court heard oral arguments Sept. 6, 2007, in the contract dispute over who will buy the 75-acre Merritt property on Route 1 in Groton, between the summit of Fort Hill and Fishtown Road.

The panel consisted of Chief Judge Joseph P. Flynn, Judge Thomas A. Bishop and Judge Trial Referee David M. Borden, who retired this summer from the state Supreme Court.

GOSA signed a contract April 14, 2003, to buy the wooded property from F.L. Merritt Inc. for $1 million, with the aid of a $650,000 state grant, and preserve it as a public nature park. Shortly after that, Ravenswood Construction LLC, a developer, asserted that it had a prior contract with Merritt to buy the tract, and sought to compel Merritt to sell to Ravenswood.

A New London Superior Court jury found May 18, 2005, that Ravenswood’s claim of a pre-existing contract was invalid, and Superior Court Judge Seymour Hendel then ruled that GOSA’s contract was valid. Ravenswood’s appeal of the jury verdict is the issue before the Appellate Court now.

It is expected that the Appellate Court will announce its ruling within 90 days.

GOSA and F.L. Merritt both are defendants. GOSA’s case was argued before the Appellate Court by Atty. Elizabeth Leamon of Tyler Cooper & Alcorn LLP of New Haven. Atty. Gerald A. Cory, of New London, addressed the court on behalf of F.L. Merritt.

Atty. Paul M. Geraghty of Geraghty & Bonnano LLC, New London, represented the plaintiff, Ravenswood.

Any request for a state Supreme Court review of the eventual ruling by the Appellate Court must be filed within 20 days of publication of the Appellate Court decision.