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Luther Forest impact on town projected

Luther Forest impact on town projected

The town is taking a serious look at what growth spurred by the Luther Forest Technology Campus and

The town is taking a serious look at what growth spurred by the Luther Forest Technology Campus and other development will mean for the town, and how it should prepare.

It could mean construction of hundreds of new homes in the next decade, according to a draft generic environmental impact statement now under review.

That will mean demand for road, water and sewer improvements, the study states, as well as measures to protect community character and quality of life.

The Town Board will hold a public hearing on the draft impact statement at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Stillwater Community Center. Written comments will be accepted through Aug. 21.

Professional planners expect development of the Luther Forest campus, a planned computer chip manufacturing center, to have regionwide growth impacts, with Malta and Stillwater at the center of the activity.

Malta completed a similar cumulative growth impact study in 2007, and used it to establish new fees to be paid by all developers for future traffic improvements, preservation of open space, and future recreation facility costs.

Stillwater’s study is also looking at what measures the town needs to take, with the idea that developers will bear some infrastructure improvement costs.

“It’s been about a year-and-a-half project,” said Town Supervisor Shawn Connelly. “You want to have a document in place so you are prepared when developers come in, and developers can known what to expect.”

The study, prepared for the town by The Chazen Group planning consultants of Troy, estimates a total of 4,071 homes, up to 1.2 million square feet of commercial/retail space and 2.6 million square feet of industrial uses could be constructed under current town zoning rules.

That’s in addition to the development that will be taking place inside the Luther Forest Technology Campus.

The 1,350-acre campus is about three-quarters in the town of Malta, with the remainder in Stillwater. Advanced Micro Devices has proposed a chip plant complex on a portion of the site near the town boundaries. While the first AMD plant would be in Malta, if there are a second or third plant with the next 20 years, one of them and perhaps part of a second would be in Stillwater.

AMD hasn’t made a final commitment to come, but the long-term plans it is seeking approval for call for up to three chip fabrication plants, each costing billions of dollars and employing more than 1,000 people.

Malta is located on the Northway, and has been seeing suburban-style development for many years. It doubled in size to 15,000 residents since 1980.

Stillwater, by contrast, has had a much slower growth rate, though Connelly noted there are several new housing developments currently under way.

Stillwater has fewer than 8,000 residents, and has added fewer than 2,000 new people in the last 30 years, based on census figures. The town remains mostly rural, with a number of horse farms and other farms filling the countryside.

The Chazen study projects that, in large measure because of Luther Forest and AMD, about 600 new homes and 150,000 square feet of non-residential development can be expected between 2007 and 2017.

The study says that that growth could have adverse impacts on the town’s infrastructure, recreational facilities, community character, farmland and open space resources unless appropriate preparations are made.

The draft environmental impact statement is available at the town Web site, www.stillwaterny.org, or at the town hall.

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