Tuesday, November 27, 2007

City Planning Commission approves Columbia's campus expansion plan

City Planning Commission approves Columbia's campus expansion plan
Tuesday, November 27th 2007, 4:00 AM

With hecklers shouting "Sellout!" and other insults, Columbia University's mammoth campus expansion plan was overwhelmingly approved Monday by the City Planning Commission.

The panel voted, 10 to 1, with one abstention, in favor of the university's proposed $6 billion expansion into west Harlem. Only Commissioner Karen Phillips voted against the expansion, citing concerns that it could cause "economic, cultural and social damage" to the surrounding area.

Another commissioner, Irwin Cantor, abstained because of his opposition to the possible use of eminent domain that could be used to force commercial property owners to sell their land.

"Rich, rich, rich!" the protesters chanted, contending that the commissioners were favoring wealthy Columbia over working- and middle-class people within the 17-acre expansion site just north of the Ivy League university's Morningside Heights campus.

The commission made some modifications to Columbia's original plan, including eliminating two of six academic buildings to be built along Broadway, between 132nd and 134th Sts.

That didn't satisfy critics led by Tom DeMott of the Coalition to Preserve Community. "We will get them legally," DeMott shouted. "More importantly, we will get them on the street."

The 25-year expansion plan now moves to the City Council, which has the final say in zoning matters.



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