Zoning changes that clear the way for GlobalFoundries to build a second massive computer chip plant on the Malta-Stillwater town border were approved Monday by the Malta Town Board.
The proposed Fab 8.2 could cost $14.7 billion, according to the company, and dwarf in size the existing Fab 8 plant, which opened last year and employs 2,000 people.
If the company proceeds with the second plant, total employment at its property in the Luther Forest Technology Campus could approach 6,700 by 2020, according to documents filed with the town.
But company officials said there’s no final decision to build, though receiving the zoning approval is a major step forward.
“There really is no timeline,” GlobalFoundries spokesman Travis Bullard said. “It’s all part of the process of determining when we will need additional capacity, but this was a major hurdle for us.”
“The ball is clearly in GlobalFoundries’ court. We are very hopeful about what GlobalFoundries’ decision will be,” said Malta Supervisor Paul J. Sausville.
GlobalFoundries, which is headquartered in the Silicon Valley in California but has its production facilities in Singapore, Dresden, and here, has not commented on reports it is negotiating with Apple to make smartphone and tablet chips. GlobalFoundries is already the second-largest chip foundry company in the world, making chips under contract for IBM, AMD and more than 150 other electronics companies.
GlobalFoundries is already building a technology research center at Fab 8 that will bring total employment to about 3,000 by the end of 2014.
GlobalFoundries applied for zoning changes for a second manufacturing plant to be located directly on the town line in late January, leading to dozens of meetings to work out the details of zoning changes.
Fab 8.2 would have a “clean room” manufacturing area of up to 575,000 square feet — nearly twice as large as the 300,000-square-foot clean room in the existing factory.
The zoning changes sought by GlobalFoundries included the towns dropping immediate plans for a new Northway Exit 11A to handle additional factory traffic, in return for GlobalFoundries funding $7.1 million in other traffic improvements. A task force will continue to pursue plans for the exit, about a mile north of Round Lake.
“Exit 11A remains at the forefront, important to a number of entities in the town of Malta as well as GlobalFoundries,” said Matthew Jones of Saratoga Springs, an attorney for GlobalFoundries.
Bullard said the company asked for the zoning change because it doesn’t believe that under federal guidelines a new exit could be planned, designed and built within the time frame GlobalFoundries envisions for building the second plant.
Under a separate development agreement approved by the Malta board, GlobalFoundries will be providing $3 million toward the future purchase of Brown’s Beach on Saratoga Lake in Stillwater. The town of Stillwater wants to purchase the property at the southeast corner of the lake and re-establish it as a public beach.
In addition, GlobalFoundries will be paying about $1.5 million to Malta, with the money going toward the local costs of traffic improvements on Round Lake Road, and possibly toward the cost of a new central Malta fire station.
At a public hearing before the vote Monday, two people spoke against the project.
Mike Smith of Burnt Hills said allowing a new plant will lead to more population growth and traffic congestion throughout the region.
“I just think it’s a shame to see it happen. This area is going to get literally ruined,” he said.
Jerry Oswitt of Malta, a long-time opponent of special tax breaks given to GlobalFoundries, noted the company’s foreign ownership. GlobalFoundries is owned by a government investment fund in Abu Dhabi.
Carol Henry, chairwoman of the Luther Forest Technology Campus Community Response Board, urged the town to require that all off-site traffic improvements be built before a Fab 8.2 opens.
After the hearing, Councilman John Hartzell said the zoning changes, while not perfect, will encourage job growth.
“The community will pay some price,” he acknowledged. “We will have traffic congestion, and some people will pay a higher price due to proximity to the plant. But we have some hope for the future. I have a 3-year-old, and I hope he can live and work here.”
With the Malta Town Board having acted on the zoning changes, the Stillwater Town Board is also expected to approve identical changes to its own zoning law.
“We have tentatively approved it,” Stillwater Town Supervisor Edward Kinowski said earlier Monday. “We’ll probably hold a special meeting later this week.”