AMD officials would not commit to coming to the Luther Forest Technology Campus (LFTC), but did ask to perform pre-construction work and said they will draw more water than previously expected from the Saratoga County water system.
Advanced Micro Devices representatives attended a workshop with the Malta Town Board Monday night, Feb. 25, the same day AMD filed amendments to the LFTC Planned Development District (PDD) with town officials.
We are still in the process of working through the manufacturing strategy so we can’t give a commitment on that tonight, said Terry Caudell, director of strategic wafer manufacturing for AMD. Caudell said a commitment from AMD could come `in the next several months.`
In the meantime, AMD officials asked the Town Board to amend the LFTC legislation.
The PDD amendments stem from changes AMD has proposed from the original footprint they were to have in LFTC. Instead of building four chip fabrication buildings at 800,000 square feet each, AMD now proposes building three buildings at 890,000 square feet each. That’s about 10 percent larger than what is allowed in the current legislation. Two of those plants would be within Malta town lines, with the third building located in Stillwater. Even with the decrease in the number of buildings, Caudell said the plants are estimated to employ approximately 1,465 people, considerably more than the 1,205 that is required in order for AMD to receive some $1.2 billion in state aid.
`The factories are larger. They have larger clean rooms,` said Caudell, `so the staffing may be a little higher.`
When asked if the changes would affect the amount of water the company would draw from the $67 million Saratoga County water system, Caudell said he expected to draw approximately 3 million gallons per day at the onset of the operation. The Saratoga Economic Development Corporation previously committed to buying approximately 2 million gallons per day for the tenants of the LFTC.
`I was very glad to hear AMD say that they’ll need 3 million gallons just to start,` said Saratoga County Supervisor and Saratoga Water Authority Chairman Jack Lawlor. He said the announcement would quell skepticism that Saratoga County would have the usage for the water system. `I’m very pleased that our business plan just got a shot in the arm,` he said.
As part of the PDD amendments, AMD is requesting they be able to perform `pre-construction` tasks on the LFTC site, such as clearing trees, excavating and installing portable bathrooms. Currently, the language in the PDD prohibits any site preparation without an approved site plan and issued building permit.
But AMD is also asking the town to issue a building permit that would allow continuous construction of concrete pouring and placement, structural erection and framing.
`I think that we can come to an agreement on that as long as there is an agreement in place that they will restore the site to its previous condition should they not commit,` said Malta Town Councilman Peter Klotz in a later interview.
AMD is also submitting a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) that must get town approval. The company outlined an aggressive timeline for the process, with a public hearing on the SEIS as early as May. As it stands, AMD’s proposed schedule has Malta accepting the SEIS as complete by the end of March, conducting public hearings in May, and accepting a final environmental impact statement in June.
With this timeline in place, said Caudell, AMD can start work on the site as early as July.
Malta Town Attorney Thomas Peterson said the schedule relied on `best-case scenario,` and questioned whether the Town Planning Board would have their recommendation on the SEIS by the end of March.
AMD officials said it was feasible if town officials focused only on the amendments to the plan, and not the plan in its entirety, which it has already reviewed.
Those amendments also include changes designed to clarify the original legislation penned by the SEDC to attract a chip manufacturer to the area. The so-called Abbie Gregg Inc. Report prepared by SEDC was done so for a generic manufacturer and not for a specific company, said Matthew Jones, principal with Jones Ferradino Law Firm in Saratoga Springs, which is serving as consulting attorneys to AMD.
`AMD is different than that theoretical concept you examined in 2002,` Jones told the Malta Town Council. `In this particular case, you initiated a change in zoning before you had an applicant on board.`
Jones provided council members with an Industry Requirements Report, prepared by AMD, designed to provide a clear description of AMD’s design and anticipated operations. He said the amendments are simply an effort to have the legislation comply with the manner in which AMD operates and conducts their business.
Former Town Councilman Cliff Lange said the town is jumping through a lot of hoops for a company that refuses to make a commitment to coming to LFTC. He said they should be doing things for the town in return.
`We should have some sort of commitment from AMD for what they’ll do for the community,` he said. `I want to talk about it now. This is the time for negotiation ` not after the fact, before the fact. This company is going to have to have a responsibility to this town. It’s important.`
Ward Tisdale, AMD’s director of global community affairs, said the company strives to work with municipalities to be a partner in the community. Citing numerous outreach programs in other areas where AMD has plants, Tisdale said the focus of some upcoming meetings would be `community requirements,` or figuring out what AMD needs to bring to the table in order to be a good neighbor.
After the presentation by AMD, Councilwoman Sue Nolen suggested the town conduct environmental sampling in LFTC and the town so that they have a basis for comparison should they believe AMD has had an effect on the environment.
`Should anything change in the next 10, 20, 30 years, we can make comparisons,` she said.
Malta Supervisor Paul Sausville said the PDD amendments would be referred to the Planning Board for review within the week. A hard-copy of the amended PDD is available for review at Town Hall. Sausville said the documents will soon be posted on the town’s Web site, www.malta-town.org.“