The Malta planning board gave its stamp of approval Tuesday, June 19, to an amendment to the Luther Forest Technology Campus planned development district, or PDD, which proposes to bury underground the first mile of transmission lines bringing electricity into the site.
Burying the lines is something the planning board has been asking for since the project’s inception four years ago. Representatives for the project had said the underground alternative was not an option due to the expense and the perceived difficulty in restoring power should there be a problem with the lines.
We still want to go overhead, said Jack Kelley, of Saratoga Economic Development Corporation, but `the cost to purchase this property made it totally impossible to continue with this project.`
SEDC has been unable to purchase the necessary tracts of land required to put in the overhead lines. Kelley indicated that agreements would have to be made with the developer of Park Place, a project approved several years ago but just now beginning construction, to allow for easements.
`If we couldn’t do this, then there is no tech campus,` said Kelley of the switch to underground lines. `This is the only way to salvage this project from a power standpoint.`
The new plans call for the first 1.1 miles of the transmission line to be buried starting behind Park Place traveling underneath Route 9 and Stonebreak Road before eventually transitioning to overhead lines.
Detailed plans of the transmission lines are not yet available and will have to be reviewed by both the town board and planning board at a later date.
The underground portion of the lines will require manholes, similar to those typically seen with sewer systems, every 1,500 feet. The transition stations, one behind Park Place and a second on the tech park property, are also in the early stages of design.
Mike Ingersoll of the LA Group suggested the tech park transition station would be placed near the roadway in a section that runs through a ravine.
The location would be partially hidden from neighboring properties, and the area would likely be landscaped with berms and other vegetation to conceal it. Ingersoll said the station would be 95-by-95 feet and about 14 or 15 feet tall.
Kelley and representatives from National Grid were unable to provide a timeframe for when detailed plans will be sent to the town board for approval.
The approved Luther Forest PDD included a provision that requires it to pay $1.5 million in mitigation fees designed to offset the visual impact of the transmission lines. The PDD also dictates that the mitigation fee be paid to the town prior to the construction of the transmission lines. When reviewing the buried transmission line amendment, the town board has the ability to adjust or remove those fees.
The Luther Forest Technology park is the future home of the proposed Advanced Micro Devices computer chip fabrication plant.
The Malta Town Board will hold an agenda workshop meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 25, at Town Hall.
The next official town board meeting will be held July 2 with public hearings beginning at 6:40 p.m. and the regular meeting scheduled for 7 p.m.