Grass Valley to pay $650K to Tripp’s Auto Body for sinkhole land |

Grass Valley to pay $650K to Tripp’s Auto Body for sinkhole land

The sinkhole is seen from above in this archive photo from January 2017.
The Union file photo | The Union archives

Grass Valley’s city council has authorized the purchase of the parcel off Freeman Lane on which a 100-foot-deep sinkhole opened up in January 2017.

The value of the property, which is owned by Tripp’s Auto Body, has been in litigation since May, with the city filing an eminent domain claim and Tripp’s filing a suit against the city shortly thereafter.

Part of the legal issues have been settled now that the city and Tripp’s have reached a mediated agreement for a $650,000 purchase price, said Craig Diamond, the attorney for the business.

But there are still legal issues that need to be hashed out between the city and Tripp’s, said Diamond, namely inverse condemnation and economic damages.

The sinkhole off Freeman Lane, which was caused by the failure of a culvert under Highway 49 after a substantial storm, will become the future site of a trailhead leading to a walkway along Wolf Creek.

Grass Valley had been in negotiations with Tripp’s regarding the purchase of a little more than a half-acre of the property, but the negotiations had stalled out over the differing appraisals. City Attorney Michael Colantuono told the council in April he wanted to proceed with the initial stages of acquisition by eminent domain.

In the wake of the sinkhole, the city of 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 has been renting the property since then.

An initial offer was presented to Tripp’s on Feb. 21. A revised offer of $578,820 was made on April 3, and the city sent a letter notifying the property owners of the eminent domain proceeding three days later. Tripp’s had valued the property at $675,000.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Community Development Director Tom Last said the city had finally come to an agreement with Tripp’s to pick up the remaining portion of the sinkhole for $650,000.

Owning the parcel will allow a maintenance road to provide access to storm drains that were put in, as well as a connection to the Wolf Creek trail that is being pieced together.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Grass Valley Mayor Howard Levine.

An emotional Levine noted the Wolf Creek trail had been a project of great interest to his late wife Peggy, who died Sept. 25, 2017.

“This is the perfect day for it to be approved,” he said.

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

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