Malta OKs 2nd Chip Plant, More Jobs Expected

MALTA–  The Malta Town Board voted unanimously to approve GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ construction of a second computer-chip manufacturing plant at its Luther Forest Technology Campus Fab 8 Campus during a special meeting Monday, Aug. 19. [Read more...]

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInStumbleUponTumblrPinterestRedditShare

Malta Accepts LFTC Impact Statement

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Building (File Photo)

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Building (File Photo)

MALTA – The Malta Town Board accepted the final environmental impact statement for Fab 8.2, a proposed addition to the Fab 8 Campus at Luther Forest Technology Campus (GlobalFoundries), at a special meeting held Monday, July 29.

The construction of the new semiconductor manufacturing facility would require amendments to the town zoning laws governing the LFTC Planned Development District.

The Second Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement approved Monday was the revised version of an earlier environmental assessment, in which the Town found the new facility could have adverse environmental effects, such as increased traffic and noise, as well as the visual impact from the building’s height. [Read more...]

New Plant Inches Closer in Malta

The discussion over the possible expansion of the GLOBALFOUNDRIES chip fab campus in Luther Forest continues to grind relentlessly forward. On Wednesday morning, the Malta Town Board again met with town officials and GLOBALFOUNDRIES representatives to further hammer out the details.

The handful of familiar issues which have formed the core of debate around the chipmaker’s proposed PDD amendment have been chipped away at bit by bit over the course of the last several months: traffic mitigation, noise and visual impacts.

The issues have become pressing due in large part to GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ and the town’s self-imposed approval deadline of July 1. According to town engineers, the process is on track to meet the date.

Board member Peter Klotz attempts to point out the location of Fab 8.2, slightly visible in GLOBALFOUNDRIES' computer model. (Photo by Wyatt Erchak/The Ballston Journal)

Board member Peter Klotz attempts to point out the location of Fab 8.2, slightly visible in GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ computer model. (Photo by Wyatt Erchak/The Ballston Journal)

“I think we’re in pretty good shape,” said Joe Lanaro of Chazen Engineers. Lanaro, joined by other planners, explained that the process is boiling down to very specific evaluations related to individual issues at this point. Those evaluations, such as noise impacts, are quickly closing out.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Director of Risk Management, Sustainability and Real Estate Steven Groseclose questioned where the process was in the context of the looming deadline.

“What level of detail are we really trying to get at, so we can get there and be done?” he asked. “I’m just looking for whatever way to kind of roll up our sleeves and get to that end point. We’re not that far off.”

“We’re a work in progress still,” Councilman Peter Klotz said.

“It’s all closing fairly quickly, is our sense,” said GLOBALFOUNDRIES attorney Matt Jones.

Wednesday morning saw details emerge for the taskforce on Northway Exit 11A, and two presentations meant to aid the final analyses of noise and visual impacts.

The taskforce will include several members from different agencies, from GLOBALFOUNDRIES to the Department of Public Works, and as Town Supervisor Paul Sausville explained should have at least “nine members.”

Its goal would be to study and prepare data to present to relevant authorities in order to ensure the exit is built–not a simple task.

“This is going to be as much a sale of 11A as an economic driver as it is a transportation corridor,” Klotz said.

The question of who from the town board would sit on the taskforce set off some minor controversy. Board members Klotz and Maggie Ruisi volunteered to co-chair, but councilman Hartzell suggested it may be appropriate for the town supervisor to sit on the taskforce.

“I don’t think it’s necessary for the supervisor to be on this board,” Klotz said.

Klotz will be running against Sausville for town supervisor later this year, having announced his candidacy in a press release highly critical of Sausville last month.

“Let’s face it, in all candor: Some of us, including myself, may not be here come the first of next year,” Hartzell said.

“In all candor, one way or another, I’ll be here for at least another two years,” Klotz responded.

Friendly electoral politics aside, the board is keen on moving the 11A project forward.

“Let’s get this thing going,” Klotz said. “We don’t want to lose any momentum.”

GLOBALFOUNDRIES showed a computer model of Fab 8.2 as it would appear from the points on Saratoga Lake where it would be most visible, according to estimates. The model was created by Saratoga Associates, and described by Groseclose as “raw, unadorned,” meaning not yet annotated.

Snake Hill appeared to be the area from where the new building would be seen the most, though exactly how significant an impact it would be is up to the beholder. At several points, some board members said you could not see the foundry at all, or “barely” as Klotz remarked.

“That’s kind of the point,” Groseclose said. “It should be difficult to see, that’s what we hope.”

On noise impacts, specialist Jack Zybura, senior engineer from Lewis S. Goodfriend & Associates, was brought in to evaluate both current and future noise mitigation efforts by GLOBALFOUNDRIES.

“Overall, the conceptual design is a significant improvement,” Zybura said. He explained the varying levels of sound absorption based on GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ plans for Fab 8.2, but also efforts to reduce noise for the older 8.1.

“What’s out there now is about 40, 42 decibels during the day,” Zybura said.

When asked by Hartzell whether the new designs would prevent a repetition of nuisance noise heard in the past, Zybura responded he was “90 percent” confident in his estimates.

The chipmaker is employing sprayed cellulose insulation and silencers to reduce nuisance noise from the first foundry, Zybura explained.

“Are we running out of Band-Aids?” asked Klotz, wondering how many retroactive measures would have to be taken. But Zybura did not think much would need be done following the “major retrofits.”

The Malta Town Board will meet for their regular meeting on Monday, May 6 at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall.

To contact the reporter on this story email wyatt@theballstonjournal.com

To contact the editor on this story email kevin@theballstonjournal.com

To comment on this article please log in and use the comment box below.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Balloon Test Slated

The Malta Town Board, other town officials and GLOBALFOUNDRIES representatives came together on Wednesday morning to further discuss the key issues surrounding the chipmaker’s possible expansion: noise, visual impact, and traffic.

Building and Planning Director Tony Tozzi and other Malta officials had met at Fab 8.1 with GLOBALFOUNDRIES prior to the Wednesday workshop in what Tozzi termed an “excellent” meeting.

“This is the second time that I’ve been at that location since they’ve put the baffles in,” Tozzi said, “and the reduction in noise was astonishing to me.”

A sound baffle is a constructed device designed to reduce airborne sound. GLOBALFOUNDRIES installed baffles at Fab 8.1 after receiving noise complaints, and is looking to implement additional noise mitigation measures both for Fab 8.1 and the proposed Fab 8.2, should it be built.

The Ballston Journal/GLOBALFOUNDRIESGLOBALFOUNDRIES demonstrated those efforts to the Malta representatives and shared their measurements of the sound currently being emitted. The company plans to use materials which have much higher sound absorption in the construction of 8.2, should they proceed with the plant.

The chip maker is basing its choices of design and materials on what they’ve learned from Fab 8.1′s construction and the community feedback the company has received.

The difficulty with noise issues is, as with visual impacts, the problem is partially subjective; sounds one person might find annoying and disruptive may be virtually unnoticeable to another. Regardless, the board is crafting language requiring GLOBALFOUNDRIES to use the “best available technology” for Fab 8.2.

Visual impacts were discussed last Wednesday, when the board was attempting to decide what type of tests would be performed to provide the public with information. The board eventually settled on doing both a physical demonstration using balloons to mark the height of the new plant, and as a computer-generated simulation which would illustrate the full building.

This Wednesday morning the board decided on more specifics for those tests. For the balloon test, five balloons will be floated on Saturday, May 4 from 8 a.m. until noon. Four red balloons will be floated to a height of 125 feet at the locations of the corners of the proposed plant, with a fifth blue one flown at 175 feet as a “spotter” balloon at the center of the site.

The “spotter” balloon will serve only as a visual reference and does not represent the actual proposed height of the building, which would be limited to 125 feet, including rooftop appurtenances.

A guided viewing tour will be conducted starting at 9 a.m. on the day of the viewing, starting from the Malta Town Hall parking lot. Participants in the tour will need their own transportation. A guide car with the Malta town seal on the door and balloons attached to it will lead the tour.

“We’ll do our very best to get that advertised,” said Town Supervisor Paul Sausville, speaking about the balloon tests.

Public feedback on the test is welcomed by the town. Residents will be able to call in or email and rate their opinion of the visual impacts on a scale of three from “serious, moderate, or slight,” according to Sausville.

Residents will be able to submit comments via email to planningdir@malta-town.org or by calling 518-461-2494.

The efforts are being undertaken to achieve a public “comfort level” satisfying to the board. The board will be receiving an update on the computer-generated simulation next week.

Additional efforts are being made to reduce the visual impact the new foundry would have. The design would use muted colors, and the foundry’s stacks would not be lighted.

Traffic has always been the “meaty issue,” as Sausville characterized it. Town officials have been meeting with the state Department of Transportation, which Tozzi said has not responded to their comments as of yet.

For now, crafting legislative language around traffic mitigation remains dependent on town official’s back-and-forth with different agencies in addition to their own internal studies.

The Malta Town Board will next meet for their monthly agenda meeting on Monday, April 29 at 6:30 p.m.

To contact the reporter on this story email wyatt@theballstonjournal.com

To contact the editor on this story email kevin@theballstonjournal.com

Up, Up and Away Over GLOBALFOUNDRIES

Following the Monday, April 15 public hearing on the amendments to the GLOBALFOUNDRIES Fab 8.2 environmental impact statement, discussion resumed among Malta officials at a Wednesday morning workshop. The meeting was another step in their continuing effort to parse out just how the possible expansion to the chip maker’s Luther Forest campus would take place.

The details of such an effort can at times take on a complexity akin to that of microchip fabrication itself.

“I try to look at this stuff, and it takes you five minutes to go back and figure out what each acronym stands for,” admitted Councilman John Hartzell during the workshop.

One component of GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ plan has proven especially difficult to figure out completely: traffic mitigation. But at the Wednesday workshop the biggest development addressed visual impacts.

The Ballston Journal/NEWSIn order to provide area residents and town officials with an idea of the scale and scope of the planned chip plant, a three-dimensional computer generated simulation will be created. The animated model will show the projected increased building height of Fab 8.2, with the stacks on top visible in some parts of the community, particularly on various points of Saratoga Lake.

There are significant benefits to using a digital model compared to simply using enlarged photographs, as is now done.

“There is value added to the digital version of it,” said Joe Lanaro of Chazen Engineering, “because that becomes something that you can keep for a long time.”

But Councilwoman Tara Thomas expressed dissatisfaction with using just the simulation and argued for a balloon test, so residents could physically see the height and location of the planned foundry.

“You can float more than one balloon … you can put up 8, 12, 20,” Thomas said. “I don’t see the harm in having both evaluations done.”

Balloons are floated over the approximate location of the plant to the proposed height of the stacks. The advantage of the test is balloons can be seen from anywhere, while the simulation only shows one basic view.

However, both essentially reveal where the visual impact would be greatest.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Director of Risk Management, Sustainability, and Real Estate Steven Groseclose indicated he did not believe balloon testing to be necessary, since it had already been performed, though not following public notification.

“I’m sorry, Steve, is there a problem?” Thomas asked.

“It’s not a simple endeavor,” Groseclose said. He also pointed out the added expense of balloon testing on multiple days, which includes taking multiple photographs from different locations.

“You might want to check the math,” Groseclose said. “I paid the bill once. It’s around $10,000.”

Lanaro repeated the advantages of the simulation model several times, but also cited the cost of balloon testing as potentially not outweighing the benefit. Many seasonal Saratoga Lake residents would not be in their homes and therefore miss the testing, he pointed out.

“I’m not really concerned about that,” Thomas responded, noting that homeowner’s associations could relay information. Along with Councilwoman Maggie Ruisi, she insisted the “comfort level” of residents was a priority, despite town Supervisor Paul Sausville’s assertion he personally had only received one tangential comment related to visual impacts, ever.

The majority of public comments in previous meetings have been directed towards traffic issues and noise, although some have expressed concerns about property values being negatively affected by visual impacts.

“I think we need the simulation,” Sausville said, adding a “level of comfort” could perhaps be reached instead by public outreach efforts.

“I’d be satisfied with just the computer simulation,” Councilman Peter Klotz said.

The board ultimately settled for flying one or two balloons on a set date, with the public to be notified beforehand, in addition to the computer generated model. The model will be uploaded to the town’s website for viewing anytime.

The Malta Town Board will meet for their agenda meeting on April 29 at 6:30 p.m.

To contact the reporter on this story email wyatt@theballstonjournal.com

To contact the editor on this story email kevin@theballstonjournal.com 

Another Domino Falls For Malta’s Fab 8.2

On the evening of Monday, April 15, the Malta Town Board held the second and final public hearing on GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ supplemental environmental impact statement for the potential expansion of their chip making campus in Luther Forest. The expansion would consist of construction of a second plant, Fab 8.2, alongside the Technology Development Center which is currently under construction.

The company’s first chip plant, Fab 8.1, is now in commercial production at the site.

malta gazeboThe statement outlines the environmental effects on the community of four amendments proposed to GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ planned development district (PDD), the zoning rules governing the campus. The amendments are necessary to allow the company to build the second chip foundry.

The environmental impact statement was deemed complete by the board on March 8.

Amendments being proposed are the increase of the building’s size both in overall area and clean-room space, height increases in the stacks on top of the plant, and various traffic mitigation modifications to accommodate an expected increase in traffic to the site in light of Northway Exit 11A’s non-existence.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES has set June 2013 as their target month for full project approval.

The hearing, which consisted of a six-minute summary of the amendments by GLOBALFOUNDRIES attorney Matt Jones, was the final platform for members of the public to voice their opinions in person.

“If you have made statements earlier, it’s not necessary that you repeat yourself,” Town Supervisor Paul Sausville said following the presentation, as he opened the floor to attendees.

To that end, a range of opinions were represented Monday night by the different speakers.

“Most of these people, the 4,000 or so, they’re all outside people,” said Mike Smith of Burnt Hills. “They’re going to need brand new housing.”

Smith was referring to GLOBALFOUNDRIES workers, both current and future. The resident also expressed a concern for green space in the area with the influx of people.

“I just hate to see it happen,” Smith added. “I don’t like the idea of GLOBALFOUNDRIES from day one.”

Another resident, from Manning Cove, wanted to know specifically if Exit 11A was off the table or not. The question drew a collective negative head shake from the board.

“It’s not off the table, it’s just not something that’s going to happen in the immediate future,” Sausville said. “There’s going to be a process, a study, for the feasibility of that going forward.”

“I’m in support of the project of GLOBALFOUNDRIES,” said Steven Gottmann, president of the Malta Business and Professional Association. “As I see it, the major issue is the traffic mitigation, and I’m looking forward to hearing greater information regarding that.”

“Traffic is what’s necessary to drive business,” Gottman said. “We want to do that in a positive way, but the worst thing that we can have is an empty fab, an empty building. I appreciate the efforts to promote growth and opportunity here.”

“We live in a heavily regulated state … GLOBALFOUNDRIES has always been responsible, and they’ve been responsive to our questions,” said Robert Barshied, chair of Stillwater’s planning board. “The Town of Stillwater is happy to have them, but happier to have them if they do things correctly, and I believe that they will.”

While the public hearing period has now been closed, community members can continue to make their concerns known through written comments until April 26. Those with concerns can submit their comments to the Malta Town Clerk before that day.

Before departing into the night, and at the suggestion of Councilman John Hartzell, everyone in attendance observed a moment of silence for the victims of Monday’s bomb attack at the Boston Marathon.

To contact the reporter on this story email wyatt@theballstonjournal.com

To contact the editor on this story email kevin@theballstonjournal.com 

GLOBALization in Malta

The Malta Town Board held a special meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 12 to hear a proposal from GLOBALFOUNDRIES to amend their PDD before deciding whether to send the application to the town’s planning board. The heavily attended hearing included a lengthy presentation by GLOBALFOUNDRIES and their associates on both their current development status and possible future plans.

After the workshop, the resolution to send the amended PDD to the planning board passed unanimously.

The Ballston Journal, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Town of Malta, Fab 8.2, Wyatt Erchak

The Malta Town Board hears representatives from GLOBALFOUNDRIES on Feb. 12. Photo by Wyatt Erchak.

A PDD (Planned Development District) is a zoning tool used by the town to structure the development of large residential, commercial, or industrial projects. It can address topics ranging from specifications on the mix of housing in a development to the amount of open space in relation to planned structures to the size and configuration of the structures themselves, and many issues in between.

In the case of GLOBALFOUNDRIES, the PDD needs to be amended to accommodate further development at their Malta site.

The special meeting comes on the heels of GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ amendment application submission on Feb. 1meant to pave the way for construction of a larger second chip foundry, Fab 8.2, adding to the first. The company sees this amendment, and the expansion in which it plays a crucial part, as keeping with the success GLOBALFOUNDRIES has had in Malta.

“It’s no longer a dream,” said Steven Groseclose, GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ Director of Corporate Services. “A lot has been achieved here.”

Officials from Malta and surrounding communities, including Round Lake and Stillwater, heard presentations on the construction of the new foundry and the issues which must be addressed in order to proceed. Chief among those issues are concerns over visibility, traffic flow, and noise.

Issues related to traffic were the main topic of discussion. The spotlight was on the proposed creation of a new exit, 11A, off the Northway in order to mitigate traffic flow to the new property. The proposal had been included in the original PDD governing the construction of Fab 8.1, but it was ultimately determined a new exit was unnecessary and it was never built.

The Tuesday presentation focused on GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ internal traffic analysis, intended to find ways to again create the desired level of traffic mitigation without the need for a new exit. The company hopes acceptance of their analysis would speed the approval process and open the door to a more rapid construction timeline for a second plant, should they decide to do so.

New highway exits can take up to a decade to finish, owing to state and federal regulations and the other layers of development required.

Proposals to achieve traffic mitigation on par with a new exit featured construction of additional lanes at six different intersections and improvements to roundabouts.

A major question was whether more traffic funneled onto main routes by alternative measures would change the original plan and effect Malta’s downtown flavor. Representatives from Round Lake also voiced some concern about increased traffic on roundabouts.

“The engineers are going to be looking at these six alternatives,” Supervisor Paul Sausville said.

Concerning visual impacts, the workshop zeroed in on the new stacks which would form part of the new foundry’s roof structure. The high-tech stacks are similar to a traditional factory’s smokestack, although far more intensively engineered.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES representatives explained their height, the plume they would release into the air and the resulting effect on visuals. Based on images and data shown, the visual impact was summarized by the company as negligible.

“I can’t see it,” said Councilman John Hartzell. Groseclose noted the comment served to illustrate their conclusion of negligible impact, while conceding there would be slightly more visibility than before.

Noise has also been an issue at Fab 8.1. While company officials say there has been a drastic reduction in noise complaints, down to just one last month from their peak in the summer of 2012, GLOBALFOUNDRIES is continuing to work on new solutions internally.

“We need to do more and are committed to doing more,” said Matt Jones, the real estate attorney for GLOBALFOUNDRIES.

The schedule for development as proposed by GLOBALFOUNDRIES envisions the completion of the preliminary process by the end of June, provided the company gets the full range of requested town approvals in mid-May.

The Malta Town Board will next convene for its monthly public agenda meeting on Monday, Feb. 25 at 6:30 p.m.

To contact the reporter on this story email news@theballstonjournal.com

To contact the editor on this story email kevin@theballstonjournal.com 

GLOBALFOUNDRIES gears up for growth

BY KEVIN J. ROGERS

On Friday, Feb. 1 GLOBALFOUNDRIES submitted an application to the Town of Malta containing proposed amendments to the company’s Planned Development District (PDD), which includes the Fab 8.1 chip manufacturing plant in Luther Forest. The move is meant to pave the way for the possible construction of a second chip foundry, Fab 8.2, at the site.

“This early planning work is part of our strategy to evaluate capacity expansion opportunities around the world in order to support long-term customer demand and achieve our global business objectives,” said Travis Bullard, GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ senior manager for public affairs and communications, in an email to the Journal. “As we continue to grow our business, we continue to invest resources in advanced planning to meet the future needs of our growing customer base.”

The Ballston Journal, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Town of MaltaAccording to the company’s Industry Requirement Report, officials at GLOBALFOUNDRIES are in the process of assessing the feasibility of the project and would make a separate determination on whether to proceed sometime in the near future. Market conditions and the readiness of the site for immediate development would be key factors in the decision.

“GLOBALFOUNDRIES must be secure in the knowledge that the site is compatible with its operational needs and ready for construction at the appropriate time,” the IRP reads. “Therefore, GLOBALFOUNDRIES is pursuing amendments to local law necessary to satisfy the programming prerequisites for the project.”

The company followed a similar pattern last year in seeking approval to build a Technology Development Center (TDC) at the Luther Forest campus before actually committing to the project. The Malta town planning board granted the necessary approvals in October 2012. Last month, the company announced they are going ahead with the TDC and will begin work on the facility in March.

Fab 8.2, if built, would be slightly larger at just under 1.9 million square feet than Fab 8.1, which is just over 1.7 million square feet overall. The building height would be 125 feet with appurtenances, as opposed to 110 feet at the first plant.

After an approved expansion last year, the clean room at Fab 8.1 now totals 300,000 square feet. The clean room at Fab 8.2 would total 475,000 square feet.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES currently employs around 2,000 people at Fab 8.1 and its administration building. The TDC is expected to add another 1,000 jobs. If the chip maker proceeds with Fab 8.2 it would need to employ around 2,000 additional personnel at the Luther Forest campus.

“While we are only in the initial design and planning phase this project, our global business continues to grow and we are excited about the possibility of expanding our investment and capabilities in New York,” Bullard said in his email.

According to a statement by GLOBALFOUNDRIES president and CEO Ajit Manocha at SUNY Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering last month, the total cost of a new plant, wherever it is built, would be about $10 billion. Between Fab 8.1, the administration building and the TDC, GLOBALFOUNDRIES has invested approximately $8.5 billion in Luther Forest so far, including almost $2 billion in tax incentives.

During the height of construction activity at Fab 8.1 contractors employed between 1,500 and 2,000 people on site at any given time. M + W US, Turner Construction and LeChase Construction had a either a lead or significant role in various stages of the project.

M + W US was lead contractor on Fab 8.1, while Turner built the adjoining administration building, designated Admin 2. No announcement has been made on the companies to be tapped for any future project.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES is the currently the fastest-growing chip maker in the world, according to company documents. Last year saw sales increase by approximately 31 percent year over year.

The company’s most significant competitor, Taiwan Semiconductor, is also reportedly eyeing a new manufacturing facility somewhere in the world, but has given no hint as to where.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES will make a formal presentation on its application at special meeting of the Malta Town Board on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Malta Town Hall, 2540 Rt. 9. The meeting is open to the public.

To contact the reporter and editor on this story email kevin@theballstonjournal.com