The public now has a chance to comment on the environmental impacts of a second GlobalFoundries computer chip plant in Luther Forest.
The Malta Town Board on Thursday accepted the company’s draft environmental impact statement as sufficient for review, and a 30-day public comment period starts as of today.
A public hearing is set for 6:50 p.m. March 25 at the Malta Town Hall.
GlobalFoundries officials are hoping to get the zoning approval for the $14.7 billion project they call Fab 8.2 by the end of June, though the final timeline will be set by the Town Board.
“We are not going to be beholden to this deadline. There’s a lot of moving parts here, and we have to do our due diligence,” said Councilwoman Tara Thomas.
The second factory, together with an approved technology development center that will break ground this spring, could bring total employment at GlobalFoundries to 6,684 by 2020, according to the draft impact statement. About 2,000 work at the first GlobalFoundries plant, which started computer chip production last year.
The proposed plant would be bigger, with up to 475,000 square feet of manufacturing cleanroom, compared to 300,000 square feet in the first plant.
In the draft impact statement, GlobalFoundries says the additional traffic doesn’t justify construction of a new Northway Exit 11A, provided $5.3 million in traffic improvements are done at six existing intersections in Malta.
Under current zoning, the new exit must be built before Fab 8.2 opens. GlobalFoundries is asking that that requirement be dropped.
After its initial position was criticized, GlobalFoundries revised the draft to state that it supports the concept of Exit 11A, and is willing to work with the town and other parties on planning for it, but doesn’t want the zoning requirement blocking its plans.
A new exit would be located about a mile north of Round Lake, and would be built with the goal of reducing traffic at Exit 11 in the village of Round Lake.
GlobalFoundries’ position may be valid, said Stuart Messinger, project manager for The Chazen Group, the town engineers, since Exit 11A was written into the zoning law in 2004 assuming there would be more development at the Luther Forest Technology Campus than there has been.
Thomas said traffic already backs up at Exit 11 in the afternoon, and the situation will need to be addressed during the new review. “These are going to be ongoing questions for the Town Board,” she said.
The draft environmental impact statement does not say who will pay for traffic improvements.
Messinger said, “Going forward, that’s an important discussion to have.”
Regarding noise complaints, GlobalFoundries also says it has learned from the noise problems associated with a backup power supply system at its first plant. It said the backup for the new factory will be designed differently, with noise suppression factored into the original design. The power units at the first plant create a high-pitched sound that some neighbors have complained about.
Malta Supervisor Paul Sausville said he’d also like to hear more about the risk of chemical spills, and the increased demand on volunteer firefighters if a second plant is built.
“My specific concern is the financial implications for the town, paid firefighters,” he said.
GlobalFoundries contends the second plant can be built without major off-site electric, gas, water or sewer improvements. It hasn’t yet addressed the emergency response concerns in detail.
Fab 8.2 will be located in both Malta and Stillwater, but Malta is handling the environmental review. Both towns will need to approve the zoning changes GlobalFoundries is requesting.