The Empire State Development Corp. yesterday approved the general project plan for a controversial $6.28 billion expansion of Columbia University that could use tax-exempt bond financing issued through the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.

The approval came after about an hour of public comment led by angry residents and a local business owner from Manhattanville, a section of New York City in West Harlem where the expansion would take place. Some spoke out against the potential use of eminent domain to seize property on behalf of the university, and others criticized the process the ESDC had followed as being opaque.

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