Most people can probably understand the sentiment governing the Malta Town Board’s surprise decision Wednesday to let GlobalFoundries work ‘round the clock, 24/7, assuming it proceeds with tentative plans to build a second computer chip plant at Luther Forest. Many probably concur with the idea of letting the company go full steam ahead so as to get the noisy, dirty exterior construction phase over with as quickly as possible.
But the Town Board, which just 16 months ago amended its noise control ordinance to rein in Sunday construction activities in response to neighbors’ complaints about annoying work at the Ellsworth Commons site, didn’t bother to ask anyone’s opinion this time. That’s not right.
Even if the impact from construction on Dunning Street residents — such a source of friction during construction of the first chip fab starting four years ago — will be substantially less because there are now more roads leading to the Luther Forest Technology Campus and thus fewer heavy trucks using but a single road, there are still a number of houses no farther than a quarter-mile away from the site. It’s hard to imagine that their occupants won’t notice the noise and air pollution caused by the trucks, bulldozers and piledrivers, or the light pollution when work continues after dark. And while the town’s current restrictions between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. six days a week and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday restrict the nuisance reasonably, ‘round-the-clock anything goes is an entirely different matter.
Yes, it would enable the plant to be completed roughly six months earlier than otherwise. But what will life be like for a whole 18 months for the unlucky residents within earshot of the place?
At the very least, the Town Board should have given residents a heads-up on the plan, and a chance to weigh in. Instead, members brought it up and voted for it at an 8 a.m. meeting held the day before July 4. The only thing sneakier would have been to do it on the actual holiday.