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County may seek grant for Loma Rica property

With the land up for sale and a development plan in the works, should the county pursue a grant to buy 154 acres of Loma Rica Ranch for a regional park, before it’s too late?

The Nevada County Board of Supervisors will consider that question Tuesday and a resolution to apply for a $400,000 grant toward the purchase of the property.



Proposition 12 provides millions of dollars to increase public recreation access and protect California’s rivers and streams.




The 452-acre Loma Rica Ranch property – which spreads out around the Idaho-Maryland/Brunswick Road intersection – meets these parameters because it includes Wolf Creek, White Water Creek and a goal to develop public trails along the creeks, said Tim Snellings, county director of intergovernmental relations.

Snellings said the county has already submitted a grant application to purchase 53 acres of the historic ranch.

An annexation agreement between the county, the property owner and Grass Valley calls for setting aside the 53 acres for open space and public recreation.

But the county proposes to buy more land as part of a plan to create the Loma Rica Ranch Regional Park, Snellings said.

“The Loma Rica Ranch includes 452-acres and we’re pursuing the acquisition of 207 acres for potential recreation,” Snellings said.

Property owner Fred Knoop, however, is pursuing a development plan with Grass Valley, which Snellings said includes 94 acres of upscale housing on the 154 acres the county wants to purchase and preserve for the regional public park.

The county’s proposal would leave intact 80 acres of the property for a mixed use of affordable housing and businesses, Snellings said.

Supervisor Peter Van Zant said the Loma Rica Ranch Regional Park concept is not a question of housing or parks. The goal is to do both, he said.

“The Brunswick basin is destined for more affordable housing, and we’re going to need recreation facilities in that area so the kids are not playing in the streets and shopping centers,” Van Zant said. “The point is that the basin is going to have more housing, and we need to balance that with good park facilities.”

Van Zant said the regional park would reduce pressure on Condon Park in Grass Valley and Pioneer Park in Nevada City.

Property owner representative Andy Cassano of Nevada City Engineering said in an interview last month the county can purchase as much of the property as it wants as long as a fair market value offer is made.

The owners are willing to sell the land to the county, Grass Valley, or an established public park and recreation district with the understanding the land would be used for a public park or other purposes that benefit the community, according to a letter from Cassano to Snellings dated Jan. 28.

The Knoops are asking $2.4 million for the 154-acre parcel and the offer to sell at this price expires on July 1, according to the letter.

“In making this offer to sell, it is important to note that the Knoops are continuing to offer the ranch for sale to all parties,” Cassano wrote.

In addition to the $400,000 Proposition 12 grant, Snellings said, the county is exploring several funding options to come up with the $2.4 million to purchase the property.

“The ultimate goal is to acquire the property without using county funds,” Snellings said.

WHAT: Resolution to apply for a $400,000 grant to purchase 154 acres of the Loma Rica Ranch property

WHEN: 9 a.m. Tuesday

WHERE: Rood Administrative Center, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City


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