A final deal on zoning changes needed for GlobalFoundries to build a computer chip plant on the Malta-Stillwater town line is nearly hammered out after months of discussion.
The Malta Town Board has agreed to accept the purchase of Brown’s Beach in Stillwater as a community benefit if GlobalFoundries decides to build the second plant.
The semiconductor manufacturer and Malta officials also reached an agreement Wednesday under which GlobalFoundries’ money will help pay for traffic improvements on Round Lake Road.
With those agreements, officials believe there are no further obstacles to votes on GlobalFoundries’ request for zoning changes it is seeking for potential construction of a $14.7 billion second semiconductor fabrication plant at its Fab 8 site.
“In principle, we have an agreement,” said Mike Russo, GlobalFoundries’ director of federal government relations.
While legal documents still need to be worded, “I don’t expect there will be a lot that can’t be agreed to between the attorneys,” said Malta town Supervisor Paul Sausville.
Required legal steps and the need for a public hearing mean a vote on the zoning legislation won’t happen until sometime in August, Malta town zoning attorney Mark Schachner said after a Town Board workshop.
GlobalFoundries has yet to decide whether it will build the Fab 8.2 plant, which could bring more than 2,000 additional manufacturing jobs to a complex that already has 2,000 permanent employees. There’s no timeline for a decision by the board of directors, said GlobalFoundries spokesman Travis Bullard.
“The company needs to have as many options as possible, and our direction is to pursue these zoning amendments,” Bullard said. “The company needs to understand what its options are and then plug that into the corporate process.”
The company announced plans for the second plant and applied for the zoning changes in January.
The Malta Town Board has been taking the lead in the zoning review, but both the Malta and Stillwater town boards will need to approve any zoning changes.
On Wednesday, Malta officials agreed to accept GlobalFoundries’ funding of the Brown’s Beach purchase, which would establish new public access to Saratoga Lake, as the primary host community benefit if the plant is built. The price is expected to be between $3 million and $4 million.
Malta officials, however, want it clear that Malta residents would the same rights to access the 12-acre beach property as would residents of Stillwater, where the beach is located.
“That’s a significant community benefit,” said Malta Councilman John Hartzell, who had been critical of having the primary community benefit located in Stillwater.
Russo said GlobalFoundries will simply write a check for the purchase, and the town of Stillwater will oversee redevelopment of the beach, which has become overgrown since it closed to the public in 2007.
Stillwater town Supervisor Edward Kinowski said the town is doing preliminary development studies, but he believes the beach and associated docks could be open by next summer.
“The town of Stillwater and the Town Board are prepared to do whatever it takes,” he said.
Kinowski believes as a public beach and docking facility that can charge fees, Brown’s Beach could be self-sustaining.
Malta and GlobalFoundries on Wednesday also settled a disagreement over whether the company will pay the local share of the cost of highway improvements on Round Lake Road, in addition to paying for $7.1 million in other traffic improvements.
Under the settlement, Malta officials will waive $1.2 million in recreation fee payments on the new plant, based on Brown’s Beach being a recreational improvement. But the company would pay that amount to the town, and the money would be used toward the roughly $1 million local cost of the Round Lake Road corridor work.
The $7.1 million will be used for traffic improvements at six identified intersections, in return for the town dropping a current requirement that an Exit 11A be built on the Northway north of Round Lake before another computer chip plant is built.
The final legislation, however, will also make clear that officials aren’t giving up the idea of a new Northway exit at some point in the future. A local task force is to be appointed to pursue the plan with state and federal officials.
“The aim is not to let this die and instead take the next step,” said Malta Councilman Peter Klotz.