As they consider whether to build a second computer chip plant, GlobalFoundries officials want the towns of Malta and Stillwater to drop a requirement for a new Northway exit.
In return for dropping the Exit 11A plan, the chipmaker is offering to make improvements at a half-dozen intersections.
The traffic created by thousands of additional workers at the Fab 8 complex appears to be the biggest issue as the two towns consider the environmental impact of the proposed second plant.
But it won’t be the only issue, as some residents remain concerned about things such as how visible buildings will be and how to block industrial noise.
“Traffic, noise, visual impact,” said Carol Henry, chairwoman of Malta’s Community Response Board. “It’s all the things that were addressed the first time around.”
GlobalFoundries is asking the towns to make zoning changes to accommodate the second plant — including completing a review of potential environmental impacts — by June 30.
The company on Feb. 1 filed an application for zoning approval to build what could be a $10 billion plant with 1,800 employees, larger and more expensive than the existing $6.9 billion plant, where about 2,000 people work.
In addition, work will be starting this spring on a $2 billion Technology Development Center where about 1,000 people will do research and development work.
The new environmental review will revisit decisions made when the Luther Forest Technology Campus was first zoned in 2004 and when GlobalFoundries sought to build its first plant in 2008.
Under the 2004 zoning law, a new Northway exit a mile north of Round Lake — Exit 11A — must be built as a traffic mitigation measure before a third chip manufacturing facility opens. The Technology Development Center counts as the second and Fab 8.2 would be the third.
But GlobalFoundries officials say a new exit isn’t warranted and would take up to a decade to get built.
“To construct any Fab 8.2, the Exit 11A becomes an impediment,” said Matthew Jones of Saratoga Springs, lawyer for GlobalFoundries.
A new exit would also involve considerations beyond GlobalFoundries’ control, a company official noted.
“That takes a high level of coordination to get done, at the state, local and federal level,” said Steve Groseclose, GlobalFoundries’ director of risk, sustainability and real estate. “It is not going to happen, at least in our time frame.”
Mitigation measures for the first plant included the Round Lake Bypass, which was finished in 2009.
Local officials expressed some skepticism about dropping the Exit 11A plan.
“The way we don’t plan for Exit 11A is we accept a lot more traffic through downtown Malta,” said Malta Town Board member Peter Klotz.
A new traffic study done by GlobalFoundries didn’t factor for the increase in truck traffic coming from the new intermodal rail-freight facility in Halfmoon. Some officials think that traffic also needs to be considered.
“We have concerns about the amount of traffic going through the Exit 11 roundabout now,” said Carrie Woerner, a Round Lake village trustee and member of the Malta Planning Board. “There are already a lot of stressors at that intersection.”
The Malta Town Board on Tuesday referred the application to the town Planning Board for a recommendation, and the Stillwater Town Board was to take a similar action Wednesday night. The final decision, however, rests with the two town boards.
“We will refer this to the Planning Board and there will be exhaustive evaluation by the engineers,” said town Supervisor Paul Sausville.
GlobalFoundries officials said they’re looking at adding Fab 8.2 to meet a growing worldwide demand for their computer chips. The Fab 8 plant is the company’ most modern, but the company also has plants in Singapore and Dresden, Germany.
The application, however, isn’t a guarantee that the company would follow through with building a plant. And if it did, it wouldn’t be fully operational until 2020-2021. The decision to proceed would be up to the company’s directors, Groseclose said.
“We’re positioning ourselves to figure out if we can do the next phase in Malta,” he said.
The new plant would straddle the Malta-Stillwater town line, so both towns will have to grant zoning approval.