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November 26, 2007

EMINENT DOMAINIA: City Planning Commission approves Columbia expansion plan

No surprises here, everything at yesterday's City Planning Commission meeting went according to the preordained script. City Planning voted to accept the Columbia University expansion plan, which would use eminent domain to displace residents and businesses in West Harlem.

Here are today's headlines:
Crain's NY Business, Columbia expansion wins key vote

10 of the Commission's 12 present members voted in favor of the expansion, with one against. One other abstained, citing a provision in the plan that would allow the university to use eminent domain to acquire land for the expansion.

NY Times: City Room, Planning Panel Approves Columbia Expansion

After a tumultuous and bitter meeting replete with persistent heckling, the New York City Planning Commission voted this afternoon to approve Columbia University’s much-debated plan for a 17-acre campus expansion in Harlem. The plan now goes to the City Council, which is expected to modify it before giving final approval.

The commission’s decision marks an important step — thought not the final one — in the often difficult process known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or Ulurp.
...
Adding a wrinkle to the project, the planning commission voted unanimously to approve a similar redevelopment proposal — a community-initiated rezoning proposal known as a Section 197a document — that had been put forward by Community Board 9.

Someone smart enough to write for the Times shouldn't be buying into Columbia's nonsensical pr campaign:

Columbia has defended the plan as necessary and promised not to seek the use of eminent domain to make people leave their homes. (The university has left open the possibility of having the state use eminent domain to acquire nonresidential property.)

NY Newsday, Columbia gets approval for West Harlem expansion
The Newsday reporter didn't fall for the same absurd rhetoric that the Times did:

Although the university has acquired most of the properties in the project's footprint, it hasn't ruled out using eminent domain to acquire the rest.
...
"The record of this commission is that their allegiance is only to other wealthy people," said architectural historian Michael Henry Adams, who harangued the commissioners with chants of "rich, rich, rich" throughout much of the meeting. "I guess the rest of us can just go to hell and die."

Columbia Spectator, CPC Approves M’Ville Plan
The Spectator explains the "wrinkle" that the Times reporter had trouble grasping:

In addition to approving the 197-c plan, the commission approved Community Board 9’s 197-a plan for the area’s development. Yet while the 197-a as written by CB9 covers all of Manhattanville, the commission approved only the provisions dealing with the area outside the expansion zone.

Commissioner Karen Phillips cast the only vote against the 197-c plan, and commissioner Irwin Cantor abstained from voting on 197-c. The 197-a plan passed without any dissenting votes.

Gothamist, Manhattanville, Columbiaville: City Agency Approves Massive Columbia Plan

The old saw is that one can't fight City Hall, and we can apparently add the ivory tower to the bulwarks of imperviousness. Despite fierce community opposition, Columbia University will be expanding its upper-Manhattan campus to surrounding blocks.

NoLandGrab: Gothamist jumped the gun, the plan must pass a full City Council vote for approval before the "University will be expanding."

Metro NY, Columbia expansion heads to City Council

Ten of the 12 board members voted to send both plans to the City Council for a hearing next month and a final vote in January.

Officials said it would be up to the council to reconcile remaining differences in the Columbia proposal and the residents’ plan, which originally had sought to prevent what its sponsors called a dire threat to one of Manhattan’s oldest working-class, low-income neighborhoods.

Posted by lumi at November 26, 2007 7:44 PM