GROTON–An out-of-town developer is challenging the right of F.L. Merritt, Inc. to sell a 75-acre tract of land it owns on Fort Hill to the Groton Open Space Association.
Ravenswood Construction LLC, of Cheshire, charged in a suit against F.L. Merritt filed April 15, 2003, in Superior Court, New London, that it had a prior written agreement, dated March 14, with F.L. Merritt to buy the property.
As putative evidence of this agreement, it attached to its suit a copy of a proposed contract that had been signed by Ravenswood but not by F.L. Merritt. An attempt by The Day newspaper to reach Ravenswood’s attorney was unsuccessful. Dean Fiske, president of Ravenswood, was quoted by the newspaper as saying: “We believe we have a contract with…[Nelson A. Merritt, President of F.L. Merritt]…and we have been working with him for many months and we want to continue with our development.”
The Cheshire-based Mr. Fiske asserted:
“We’re certainly not going to sit back and let him sell his property to GOSA.”
GOSA President Priscilla Pratt and Nelson A. Merritt signed a purchase-and-sale agreement April 14 in the Greenwich, CT offices of Robert Lane, a lawyer representing F.L. Merritt. GOSA plans to use a $650,000 state grant, announced April 8, to help pay the $1 million purchase price.
GOSA intends to preserve the site as the “Merritt Family Forest.” Under terms of the state grant, the tract will remain in its natural state and open to the public in perpetuity.
Mrs. Pratt said the Ravenswood suit is an “improper, vexatious and nuisance attempt to interfere” with GOSA’s signed contract and an “outrageous interference with the laudable goal of both the Merritts and GOSA to have the property preserved in its natural state.”
Attorney William C. Kroll, representing F.L. Merritt in the Ravenswood suit, questioned in The Day article why the proposed contract contained in Ravenswood’s suit lacked a signature by Mr. Merritt or Atty. Lane.
Atty. Kroll also provided the newspaper with a copy of a March 14 letter by which Atty. Lane retured to Ravenswood the unsigned contract as well as a deposit.