Saratoga County

Public views aired on AMD plan

For some people, the $3.5 billion Advanced Micro Devices computer chip factory being planned for


For some people, the $3.5 billion Advanced Micro Devices computer chip factory being planned for here is about creating good jobs.

Others see activity at the plant, proposed for the Luther Forest Technology Campus, as an ongoing future risk to the environment.

Both point of views were offered to the Town Board Monday at what will be the last public hearing before the board votes Aug. 25 on zoning changes being requested by AMD.

“A lot of the comments we’ve heard before,” town Supervisor Paul Sausville said afterward. “Some of the comments we’ve responded to already, and we may consider whether we need to respond further.”

The financially struggling Sunnyvale, Calif.-based computer chip maker is anxious for the rezoning vote, but still hasn’t decided when and if to make a final commitment to build the plant.

Discussion for the last year about a corporate “asset smart” strategy to reduce capital costs has led some observers to wonder whether the company will follow through on its Luther Forest plans.

“The asset-smart strategy is still under review,” said Ward Tisdale, AMD’s manager of global community affairs, who attended the hearing. “At some point in the future it will be announced, and then this project will have clarity.”

AMD has until July 2009 to break ground and qualify for $1.2 billion in state job-creation incentives.

The company applied last February for zoning changes to tailor the Luther Forest Technology Campus zoning written four years ago to its specific project. Agreements on the details have been hammered out in a series of meetings over the last six months.

The hearing was on those agreements, which must be formally adopted by the Town Board.

One speaker said the changes have weakened environmental protections written into the original legislation, and said those provisions should be tightened.

“We’ll be feeling the effects on our roads, in our air, in our neighborhoods,” said Carol Marotta of Stillwater. “We just want to be certain all the protections have been done.”

AMD officials have said the company expects to exceed minimum environmental compliance standards, but they objected to compliance language in the 2004 law they said was vague, or gave the town regulatory authority normally reserved for state and federal governments.

Marotta also expressed concerns that site clearing would start before AMD makes a final commitment.

Tisdale, however, said the commitment will come before any work clearing land begins.

“Until we make a commitment, there will be no steps to disturb the site,” he said.

Others speakers praised the project. The plant would have an estimated 1,465 jobs, and create thousands more jobs in support businesses. Some people who have had children leave the area to find work said AMD will be a source of good jobs.

“This is a very important project not just to Malta and Saratoga County, but to the entire state of New York,” said Denise Romeo, vice president of the Southern Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce.

At a meeting earlier in the day, Dennis Brobston, president of the Saratoga Economic Development Corp., also predicted major job creation impacts. He said communities should be readying new industrial sites now, not later, for the influx that will follow AMD.

“AMD is going to give a signature and things are going to happen and companies are going to come, and we won’t be ready,” Brobston told the county’s Industrial Development Agency, urging it to consider promoting creation of new industrial parks.

The Town Board voted to keep the hearing record open until its vote, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 25, at town hall.

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