VILLAGE OF STILLWATER, April 8 – Meeting for the first time in the not yet officially open new Stillwater Town Hall, the Town Board and Town Planning held back to back public hearings on amendments GlobalFoundries seeks to its Planned Development District zoning.
The company has recently sought further to amend the Luther Forest Technology Campus Planned Development District (PDD) of 2004, so that it can revise the building metrics for a third semiconductor manufacturing facility to be known as Fab 8.2; and to eliminate a future Northway Exit 11A as a requirement by providing alternative mitigation; as well as to consider the environmental impacts of the project under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (commonly called "the SEQR process")) as described in the Second Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SSDEIS) of February 1, 2013.
The Planning board unanimously approved an Amendment to the Global Foundries PDD with conditions similar to those of the Malta board. This approval will allow the Global Foundries process to move forward, while meeting municipal requirements.
Only a handful – a short handful at that – of Town residents attended the meeting, which in opening remarks Supervisor Edward Kinowski called "atypical of many meetings" related to Global Foundries. However, he noted that comments by mail would continue to be accepted for ten days from the meeting; and those may be sent to the (current) Town Hall and will be referred accordingly.
"I consider this serious," he continued, "the largest project I'm aware of in the country in the tech arena. It holds national interest... We want to give open-arms to everything, but sometimes it's tough." He stressed that issues are yet to be addressed, "and will be addressed," while finding "a happy medium on issues in order to see the project continue to move forward."
Added Town Planning Board Chairman Robert Barshied: "Our goal on the Planning Board is to give GlobalFoundries the answers quickly; also be cautious that we do a thorough job in the reviews; and provide Town residents with the assurance that we're going to look at all the issues." A key purpose of the meetings, and a special meeting also scheduled, was for the Planning Board to formally refer it back to the Town Board, which alone has right of approval.
Libby Coreno, an attorney for Global, and as she pointed out herself a Stillwater resident, provided an overview of three, or in a sense four amendments requested, which she was happy to say contrasted with about 25 being sought in 2008.
The current amendments concern:
1) An increase in allowed square footage of the total fab footprint from the previous not more than 535,000, to a limit of 575,000. (Clean room size would be limited to 300,000 sq. ft., for flexibility.) A Technology Development Center planned for 90,000 sq. ft. is already in construction; and future Fab 8.2 is planned at 475,000. Coreno noted that the total proposed, 865,000 sq. ft. remains under the 900,000 allowed under the PDD legislation. (The fab footprint would increase by about 50,000 so, but no change in the total footprint.)
The company proposes, she later explained, to eliminate the restriction on clean room size; but does not envision going over anything that has been already approved.
2) Maximum heights of the buildings: An increase is sought by about 15 ft. over the total height, to from 125 ft., to include rooftop appurtenances. The stacks will be "a little bit higher “for better dispersion, and are the main reason for the increase.
3) Offsite mitigation for traffic that would be sufficient without the need for Exit 11A. She said that the company was working with Malta, as lead agency on the PDDs, to find the mitigation that will allow the project to move forward.
A fourth component is some language changes updating the SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) language to address more concerns; characterized as "more a procedural matter."
Thomas Roberts of the Village of Stillwater asked why they want to eliminate Exit 11A -- as has been widely understood by the public in recent months – when there are already traffic problems in changeover periods.
Steve Groseclose of Global emphasized that "We don't oppose 11A; in fact we want to see 11A built as well. It just hasn't been built," and nothing has been done all these years. Moreover, it is a long project that local, state and federal people will have to be behind before it can happen. "The reality is, it's not going to be built in time, which forces our company to kind of do its own risk management." The company simply can't plan to build until it is demonstrated that there are alternate methods of mitigating traffic, making traffic flow the way it needs to. He said that further traffic analysis has been done to see if there are other feasible ways to get that result.
"But in parallel, and long-term, we DO want 11A, as well. A lot of people want that. We see that as an amenity making things really nice for the future," and as other factories come along.
Before the Planning Board were a number of amendments needed to construct or reconstruct some parking areas defined in the PDD, to allow for construction vehicles, equipment, concrete production; and on-site contractor trailers without impeding other regular worker traffic at the facility; as well as a number of environmental questions.
During some technical discussion of those, chairman Barshied and representatives of the company, particularly John Muncie of C.T. Male, acknowledged together the understanding that in addition to initial workups already by engineers, those will be addressed in detail in keeping with the SEQR process, which can now begin on the proposed amendments.
These included questions from some residents and officials about sufficient power and water needs as the years move on, and air quality issues; even, among questions raised by Planning Board member Carol Marotta, any potential effects of pollutants on "ruminants" as a report puts it -- that is grazing animals, notably both horses and cattle – which she stressed was a respect in which Stillwater may have more concerns than Malta.
Muncie said the issues are already in process of being addressed, particularly in communication with the utilities, because of all the planning for several years that has to be in place.
There is a simultaneous PDD amendment application pending in Malta. The Town of Stillwater, Kinowski explained, cannot act on the application until the SEQR process is completed by Malta, which is the lead agency of record.
"This really is a kickoff of 8.2 – of the process of future development at GlobalFoundries," said Kinowski to the Express Friday.