Grass Valley planning commissioners OK long-delayed expansion for Tripp’s Auto Body |

Grass Valley planning commissioners OK long-delayed expansion for Tripp’s Auto Body

In January 2017, a large sinkhole developed off Freeman Lane in Grass Valley.
Submitted photo

Tripp’s Auto Body Shop had just purchased a new location on Freeman Lane with plans to expand when disaster struck in the form of a giant sinkhole in January 2017.

The 100-foot-deep sinkhole off Freeman Lane, which was caused by the failure of a culvert under Highway 49, caused a more than two-year delay in the business’ plan to add an automobile repair component to its business. But Tripp’s now is moving forward, getting an OK for a development review permit and use permit amendment for a 4,700-square-foot addition from Grass Valley’s planning commission on Tuesday.

The building being proposed will house an auto repair shop with a canopy that connects to the existing building, said project head Rob Wood of Millennium Planning & Engineering.

Grass Valley City Planner Lance Lowe noted Tripp’s has provided 67 parking places, 14 more than required. The site plan currently does not meet landscaping requirements that include perimeter landscaping and one tree per every five parking spaces, Lowe added. But because the city purchased a little more than a half-acre of the property to access the Wolf Creek Trail, Tripp’s has offered to provide additional landscaping along the southern property line, Lowe said.

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The project does not need an Environmental Impact Report because it’s an extension of an existing business and will have no significant environmental impacts, Lowe said. The parcel was a used car lot with a mechanic component before Tripp’s bought it, but was legally non-conforming, city staff said.

Wood told the planning commissioners the new building was needed because Tripp’s has outgrown its current space.

“He moved out there with the intent to expand,” Wood said. “He has been waiting for this for a long time.”

In response to a question about traffic impacts, Wood said they would be “very, very minimal … I don’t think an increase would be noticeable.”

Legal issues continue

Meanwhile, the city and Tripp’s are still in a legal dispute regarding some aspects of the sinkhole parcel. Grass Valley took on the responsibility for the repairs, making the decision to sculpt the hole into a stable shape rather than filling it up, and then rented the property.

Grass Valley had been in negotiations with Tripp’s regarding the purchase of a little more than a half-acre of the property, which stalled out over differing appraisals. Owning the parcel will allow the city to construct a maintenance road to provide access to storm drains that were put in, as well as a connection to the Wolf Creek trail.

The value of the property was in litigation for much of 2018, with the city filing an eminent domain claim and Tripp’s subsequently filing a suit against the city. The city and Tripp’s reached a mediated agreement for a $650,000 purchase price last fall. Craig Diamond, the attorney for Tripp’s, said at the time that issues still needing to be hashed out included inverse condemnation and economic damages.

Court records show the case filed by Tripp’s is still open, with a settlement conference scheduled for Aug. 12 and a jury trial set for early September.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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