Eminent domain dispute causes problems for Grants Pass business

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — A Grants Pass company that has been in business for more than seven decades, says the city is looking to take over its property through eminent domain.

Copeland Sand & Gravel, which has operated at 695 S.E. J St., in Grants Pass since 1959, said the city is taking steps to seize its land.

The city said it wants the property because the location is the best spot for a new water filtration plant.  The two sides have talked for several years about working together.

Vice President, Jennifer Ausland of Copeland Sand & Gravel, said she hoped her company, now 72 years in business, could stay on site for a few years before leaving.

“We thought that was the deal… and so any property that we’ve looked at was all contingent upon being able to continue to operate here at least in some capacity,” Ausland said.

But after an executive session Monday, Ausland said the city is being more aggressive.

“I was shocked to read my email 9:17 Tuesday morning that all discussions and all offers were off the table and that all the city is asking us to be removed from the property in 180 days,” Ausland said.

Grants Pass city attorney, Mark Bartholomew said no deal has been reached.

“We’re open to continuing negotiations with the property owner but right now we need to move ahead with getting an appraisal and doing those assessments,” Bartholomew said.

Last week, the city council voted against a resolution to begin the process of seizing the property.

“The council is not all on the same plate,” said Valerie Lovelace, Grants Pass City Councilor. “We all know the neccessity for the water plant and we need to go forward but there are mixed views,” she added.

The vote was split 4-3 with one councilor, Rick Riker recusing himself. However, the city is still looking at its options.

“I will say from the prospective of the council, they really do want to get this moving. Nothing has actually been officially voted through so until something officially is voted through… it’s still open.”

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