A Northway Exit 11A would help the towns deal with increased traffic due to GlobalFoundries, and plans for it shouldn’t be dropped, speakers said at a public hearing Monday night.
Planning for the exit north of Round Lake has never been pursued, though the concept was written into the zoning law for the Luther Forest Technology Campus a decade ago.
Now, GlobalFoundries is asking the towns to drop the plans from their zoning laws as it makes plans for a $14.7 billion second factory at its Fab 8 computer chip complex — but two speakers at the hearing said that’s a bad idea.
“It was put in there for a very good reason: to take traffic directly into the site and keep it off local roads,” said Carol Marotta, a member of the Stillwater Planning Board.
“Exit 11A is a more direct and faster entrance into the campus,” said Carol Henry, chairwoman of Malta’s Community Response Board.
Keeping the exit in the zoning legislation will also help maintain political pressure for the exit to be funded and built, Henry said.
The two spoke at a public hearing held at the Malta Town Hall on the zoning changes GlobalFoundries is requesting to facilitate the second plant, which will add an additional 1,800 people to the local GlobalFoundries payroll by 2020, if the company decides to proceed. The plant would be located on the line between the two towns, and both will need to approve any zoning changes.
GlobalFoundries started production last year at its first Fab 8 plant, where 2,000 people now work. It has also begun site work for construction of a technology development center, to be finished by late 2014 with an additional 1,000 employees. By 2020, if a second factory is built, employment there could be around 5,000.
Under a zoning law written in 2004, the opening of the second factory will require construction of the new Northway exit.
However, GlobalFoundries says that given the lack of planning for the exit since then, it couldn’t be financed, designed and completed in time for the opening of a second factory.
“There are no current plans under way for Exit 11A,” said Matthew Jones of Saratoga Springs, an attorney for GlobalFoundries.
Instead of the new exit, the company wants to make improvements at six existing intersections. The improvements would cost an estimated $5.3 million, but GlobalFoundries had not said who would pay for them.
Henry said the company’s environmental impact analysis “glosses over” traffic congestion created by the first plant’s employees, and future development will put more plant traffic onto Hermes Road, which connects to county roads running through the Luther Forest housing development.
“Local residents have long fought to keep this from being a main campus entrance,” Henry said during the public hearing.
The Malta Town Board members did not respond to the comments, pending further public comments on the second plant’s potential environmental impacts.
Another public hearing on the environmental impacts will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, April 15, at the Malta Town Hall. The deadline for written public comment will be April 26. After that, GlobalFoundries will formally respond to all the comments.
While most of the public comment to date has been about how to deal with increased traffic, some residents are concerned about the visual impact of the second plant. GlobalFoundries wants the factory to be as much as 125 feet tall, counting rooftop ventilation stacks, which is about 15 feet higher than the current plant.
The added height will make the plant visible from more locations, including housing developments built on the ridges above the east side of Saratoga Lake, residents said.
The higher stacks are needed to properly disperse the air being continuously discharged by the plant, Jones said.
While GlobalFoundries hasn’t made a commitment to build the second plant, company officials have said they want the necessary zoning approvals in place by this summer.