Friday, June 01, 2007

Approval Process for Manhattanville Expansion Expected to Begin Monday - Community Board Objects to Timing of Certification

Approval Process for Manhattanville Expansion Expected to Begin Monday
Community Board Objects to Timing of Certification
By Erin Durkin
Issue date: 5/2/07 Section: News

The public approval process for Columbia's proposed Manhattanville expansion is set to officially launch on Monday. According to Jennifer Torres, Department of City Planning spokeswoman, the long-awaited Environmental Impact Statement for the project will likely be certified as complete at the City Planning Commission's Monday meeting. At this time, the CPC will also begin reviewing Community Board 9's 197-a plan, an alternate land use plan proposed by the board which counters many aspects of Columbia's plan.

The 197-a will be reviewed concurrently with Columbia's plan, "in order to ensure equal consideration of the two plans" Torres said.

Once the EIS, which details the environmental affects the project would have on the area, is certified, the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure will be set in motion. This process will last up to seven months. In the first step of the approval process, the plan will be sent to CB9, which will have 60 days to review it. The board will then take an advisory vote to approve or reject Columbia's proposed zoning changes, which must be made before the University can build its new campus.

CB9 has objected to the timing of the certification. The board is on summer hiatus until August and will likely have difficulty getting a quorum to review the plan. To protest the timing of the EIS's release, CB9 chairman Jordi Reyes-Montblanc and other board members will hold a press conference tomorrow on the steps of City Hall.

"We have told them [CPC] for a long time what the circumstances are, that the summer months are not good months to do this thing, and they have decided to ignore us," Reyes-Montblanc said. "We hope to get the attention of the elected officials, particularly the City Planning Commission, and perhaps they will take our situation into consideration." The board is asking that the certification of the EIS be deferred until August.

"We understand, because we like summer vacation, too," said Columbia spokeswoman La-Verna Fountain, "but we also know that this is a seven-month process and you're going to run into periods that aren't convenient for anyone."

Following CB9's vote, Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President, will have 30 days to make his own recommendations to the CPC. In the past, Stringer has said that Columbia needs to grow but has urged that the expansion be carried out responsibly. Following Stringer's recommendations, the CPC will vote on the proposal.

Regardless of the commission's decision, the proposal will be sent to the City Council for a vote. Once the City Council votes, the proposal will go to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will have five days to register his position on the plan.
NB - The statements of City Planning and Columbia that this is a 7 month process tends to obfuscate the fact that Community Boards have only 60 days out those 7 months, in which to make their evaluation and recommendations. This tactic is intended to dismiss the Community Board's particpation as not important enough to warrant even the 60 days in which unpaid volunteers do their civic duty on behalf ofthe community while the bloated well-paid over-compensated burrocrazy (I know it is spelled bureaucracy) can take 3 and half years to toy around the voluminous data that a project of this magnitude requires by scheduling the ULURP during the summer months not only shows disregard for the community boards it reflects a total lack of respect for the community at large. - JRM

No comments: