Advanced Micro Devices announced Friday that the Luther Forest Technology Campus will be the home for its next 300mm wafer manufacturing facility. In order for AMD to break ground on the reported $3.2 billion plant between 2007 and 2009, both public and private sector organizations must complete the requirements set forth in the planned development district legislation that the town of Malta passes as lead agency for the project in 2004.
If fully developed, Luther Forest’s 1,350 acres will be transformed into one of the world’s most advanced computer chip manufacturing sites. Before operations can begin by the projected date of 2012, major infrastructure upgrades are needed.
It is a bit unclear of the exact timeframe, but with a 2012 to 2014 schedule it gives us more time, Malta Supervisor Paul Sausville said. `It is a bit of a relief. We thought the time frame would be more compressed.`
The first task at hand is to prepare the town, county and state for this transformation.
Before a shovel hits the ground at LFTC, the owner of the campus, Saratoga Economic Development Corporation, must begin the process of site plan review and obtain proper permits for development. Once AMD chooses a final design for the first fabrication facility on the site, commonly referred to as a fab, SEDC must submit the plans to the Malta planning board.
`The ball is with SEDC and AMD,` Sausville said. `We have passed the legislation and it is their turn to comply with the ground rules we set.`
Jon Kelley, vice president of SEDC, the site plan for the main site will be submitted in early 2007.
The planning board will review the physical construction plans for the building, and separately review what processes will take place inside the plant and what affect they will have on the community.
`Our job will be to educate ourselves to the cutting-edge science involved in nanotechnology,` Malta planning board chairman Peter Klotz said. `We need to be educated to ensure that this project complies with the GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement), the legislation, and that it protects the health and safety of the citizens of Malta.`
The GEIS will create the specific zoning legislation for the project and address potential impacts on the community. The town will review the site plan before its issues building permits to begin construction.
The review would include LFTC’s internal roadways, utilities and structures. They do not need to be submitted at the same time.
`A normal subdivision could take two to three months to move through the site review process,` Town Planner John Zepko said. `Something like this would be much more extended than that.`
Zepko said no plans are currently under review by the town for the LFTC main site, but two subdivisions are under review related to the Stonebreak and Souther access roads.
`Our internal road structure plan is almost complete and we will be filing that soon,` Kelley said. `We were pretty close to our original estimates as far as the road paths.`
SEDC submitted plans to the town of Stillwater planning board for a sewer line on Cold Springs Road to connect the site to the Saratoga County sewer district. The plan is scheduled for review next month. The town of Halfmoon has approved a portion of the same sewer line in its town by Coons Road.
Malta will have to enlist more help to handle a project of this size and scope.
`We are not sure what to expect. With a $1 billion construction project on the table, it is beyond the scope of our local staff. We will need specialized outside help,` Sausville said. `Our local building inspector is not set up for a project of this magnitude.`
The town is exploring the use of consulting engineers who specialize in the building and construction of nanotechnoloy facilities. LFTC, not local taxpayers, will pay for the extra resources, Sausville said.
SEDC has applied for a wetland permit from the Army Corps of Engineers for wetland mitigation.
`We will be replacing the any affected wetlands on the site at a 2-1 ratio,` Kelley said. SEDC did modify the Southern Access road to avoid additional wetlands, he said.
`This site is 3 square miles in size, we are planning to build 7 miles of roads inside the site,` he said. `I don’t know a project in New York that is building that many miles of internal roads.`
Malta is now a construction zone in many places, with the replacement of the Northway Exit 12 bridge and the addition of five roundabouts along Route 67 and Route 9, but more is to come.
LFTC will bring further infrastructure upgrades along Dunning Street, Route 9 at Stonebreak Road and the Round Lake bypass.
`The closure of exits 10 and 12 recently caused a very noticeable increase in traffic,` Round Lake Mayor Dixie Lee Sacks said. `It shows the need for a bypass.`
The addition of a state road around Round Lake, connecting the intersection of Round Lake Road and Exit 11 with routes 9 and 67 is an integral part of the LFTC project. The GEIS stated the need for a bypass to limit traffic through the village. Currently, the only connection between the Northway Exit 11 and Route 9 is through the village.
The LFTC legislation states that once completed construction at the campus exceeds 300,000 square feet, the Round Lake Bypass must be in place before any additional building can be occupied, Sausville said. The first chip fab is estimated to be 1.2 million square feet.
`They cannot get a CO (certificate of occupancy) until the bypass is done. We cannot afford any additional traffic through the village,` Sacks said.
The original plans for the bypass appeared in the LFTC GEIS, then went to the state Department of Transportation for review, then to Saratoga County department of public works for the preliminary and final design review.
`We should have the final design stage completed by the end of July,` said Tom Speziale, county DPW engineer. `Then, because it is going to be a state road, we will turn it back over to the state.`
The preliminary design phase investigated the feasibility of the bypass and two to three options. After public hearings, one path and an alternative is chosen.
`We chose the route that has the least amount of impact to landowners and the environment,` he said. `We also chose the next best alternative.`
The route exits Round Lake Road just above the Round Lake Firehouse and runs parallel to the Northway, bends around and over a creek and the Zim Smith trail and connects to the intersection of Route 9 and 67.
The plans also call for two roundabouts, one on each end of the bypass, to be built, Speziale said.
The county will remain involved in the project because it connects to county roads.
Once the bypass is open, the state will turn the existing portion of Round Lake Road in the village over to the village.
`Round Lake is going to get its bypass,` Kelley said. `This is one of the positive community benefits to this project.`
The proposal to build an additional Northway Exit is on hold for now, Kelley said. There will only be a need for an exit is only if LFTC exceeds two fabs, and it takes six to eight years to gain approval and build an interstate exchange, so the planning, he said. The planning process will be needed in the future, but not for the present project, he added.
`We have set the table for this project and have yet to serve the meal. So before we plan another one, we need to clear the dishes, wash them and put them away,` Kelley said.
Water and sewer
`We know there will be a county-wide water system. AMD was very specific about wanting it,` Kelley said. `They looked over the entire route of the project, including the pumping station site in Moreau.`
The GEIS indicated two possible sources of water for use at LFTC, a countywide water system and the other a direct draw from the Hudson River in Mechanicville.
The direct-draw plan will now be relegated to a back-up, Kelley said.
The additional water usage from a fab at the campus and a few non-municipal users would give the system more than enough volume to make it a feasible project, according to Saratoga County Water Project Coordinator Wes Carr.
A countywide plan has eluded Saratoga County for over 30 years, but the additional usage from LFTC and government funding will make it a reality.
`We should have an agreement with the non-municipal users within four to six weeks,` he said.
The project is initially funded with grants from state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, and U.S. Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park. The two grants are for $10 million each, and are designated for the design and construction of the system, according to Carr.
The county has completed its draft environmental impact statement and will be completing the final statement in the next few weeks.
The towns of Ballston and Wilton have signed on to buy water from the project, and the county is negotiating with Clifton Park to renew a previous agreement to purchase water, Carr said.
The city of Saratoga Springs has opted out of the county plan to explore securing its own source of water by tapping into Saratoga Lake. In past years the project was mothballed, because the without the city’s usage, the system would be too expensive. The addition of the AMD fab would give the system 2-2.5 million gallons per day usage, Carr said.
`The volume of water and rates should make it attractive to bring the city back,` he said.
The county hopes break ground on the system in November or December of 2006 and have the system on line by late fall 2008.
It will begin in Moreau at the Hudson River above the Queensbury dam and extend down Route 9, skirt the west side of Saratoga Springs through various right-of-ways and follow the Saratoga County sewer lines to LFTC. The system will have an initial capacity of 7-14 million gallons per day and could be upgraded to handle 26 million.
The county sewer lines run along the former trolley lines through Round Lake and have enough capacity to handle the first AMD fab.
`We have a letter from the Saratoga County Sewer District that says it has enough capacity for an additional 3 million gallons a day,` Kelley said. `Our sewer plans are 95 percent complete.`
The approval of the sewer line plan from the town of Stillwater will complete the access needed to the county system.
The AMD plant will require four 115 KV transmission lines from two separate substations to supply electricity, Kelley said. A single pole system from the Malta substation is planned to follow the Stonebreak Road access and two sets of wooden poles will come from the Mulberry substation in Stillwater.
`We are holding a meeting with the state Public Service Commission on Wednesday to begin the process,` Kelley said.
`We intend to begin the process with the PSC to build an interconnector with NYSEG (New York State Electric and Gas) to service LFTC,` National Grid spokesman Alberto Bianchetti said.
`The process now turns to find out what AMD’s needs are and its schedule.`
National Grid is the process of determining who will pay for the upgrades for the planned expansion, Bianchetti said.“