From the outset, CB9 was led to believe that their 197a Plan and Columbia University’s Plan would move in tandem and that the Department of City Planning would help resolve the differences. Despite some diligent work on behalf of the Community and consultants to Columbia University discussions to resolve land use and zoning differences between the two entities were never scheduled. This despite Commissioner Burden’s stated reason for looking at the two plans simultaneously and despite repeated requests from the Community Board to hold such meetings.
Columbia University specified what their need was over a 30 year period and that set of assumptions was never questioned and the 197a alternative was always measured against those unchallenged set of assumptions. However, when the Commission based on their set of aesthetic values chose to reduce the amount of academic and research space they did so, and Columbia acceded to their request.
197-a Plan Alternative to accommodate Columbia University’s proposal
· The Commission didn’t support the 197-a Plan Alternative on the basis that the plan would result in an “irregular pattern of development with less open space and an inferior public and pedestrian environment that that achievable under the integrated campus proposed by Columbia and that it would accommodate only a portion of Columbia’s proposed program”. We believe that what the Commission calls “irregular” is more in accordance with existing character of the neighborhood. The 197-a Plan never intended to accommodate Columbia University’s entire program, only what it could be developed within its properties.
Use of Eminent Domain
· The Commission did not endorse the 197-a plan’s recommendation for Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning since it is not consistent with city policy. However, it doesn’t recommend the use of the existing voluntary IZ program within the Manhattanville Special District, although it does for other locations in West Harlem.
The Underground Structure / Bathtub
· To date, Columbia has not outlined or disclosed what the environmental, economic and social costs of the construction of the “bath tub” would be on the community.
Manufacturing Uses and Creative and Sustainable Industries
· The City Planning Commission notes that “a CBA is a valuable tool for non-land Use issues.” However, the Commission neglects to say that the community strongly states that a CBA should not be used to facilitate the concept of “land-use or zoning for sale.”
Urban Design and Open Space
· The Commission accepts the demolition of the Sheffield Farms Stable as an unavoidable significant adverse impact. This historic building does not belong to Columbia but to a long-established business incubator that provides local jobs. The Commission lacks of action would lead to a taking of this property under eminent domain and we reject for two reasons: one this historic building is part of Manhattanville’s industrial past and should be preserved, and second, the use of eminent domain is unfair (see above) and should not be allowed.