Exclusive Intel is on trial in Massachusetts over its plans to build a distribution and logistics warehouse on the site of its defunct R&D offices and chip fab, which closed in 2013.
At the heart of this showdown are claims from citizens that Intel hasn’t told the surrounding community what exactly it intends to build and that the land is to be used for industry and manufacturing, but it appears a massive commercial warehouse is being built instead.
The x86 giant has spent years figuring out what to do with the campus – whether to salvage it for production or research, or sell it to a developer. At the beginning of this year they almost found a buyer.
The location in question is at 75 Reed Road in Hudson, Massachusetts, which holds a special place in computer history. It was the home of Digital Equipment Corporation’s R&D and chip manufacturing before Intel took over the land and facility after a patent dispute with DEC in 1997. Intel continued R&D at the site and continued to produce chips until it threw in the towel and left the site open to options.
Ultimately, the site was up for sale as Intel planned to demolish the 40-year-old main buildings while dumping the land.
However, the chipmaker decided, perhaps in response to a revival of American semiconductor manufacturing funded by government subsidies from the CHIPS Act, that it wanted to convert the property into a distribution, logistics and warehousing facility — something that might sound harmless, but the nearby community involves weapons.
Also, Intel doesn’t have to use the newly developed site for its own purposes at all: It can and probably will market it to a future tenant. And because of its status as a “logistics facility,” it can meet planning requirements without having to disclose the full extent of traffic, pollution, and other impacts. And that’s what really pisses off the locals.
It is crucial that the location borders on two old people’s villages with 286 residential units and a day-care center. As a former R&D and manufacturing facility, neighboring communities understood the magnitude of the traffic and resource impact of such a factory.
However, the thought of a 30-acre warehouse with more than 100 loading docks and space to park more than 500 trucks and 400 employee vehicles is a different story altogether. Trucks that issue 24/7 backup alerts and sometimes sit idle in the parking lot for hours are just a problem. It is estimated that there could be at least 700 truck trips per day.
The traffic implications of creating such a hub have far-reaching implications, and according to the plaintiffs in their lawsuit against Intel and its redevelopment plans, these were not adequately addressed if not rushed without full recognition of the implications by planning bodies.
Even bigger problem is this is another example of a big tech company weaving through local restrictions to build community-destroying facilities, said Michael Pill, the attorney representing both retirement housing facilities and the child care center in their legal challenge [PDF] to intel.
“What Intel has done here is something deeply uncomfortable that grows out of its desire to dump ownership with no regard for the community where it was once a key pillar of production,” Pill said The registry.
“There’s a development pattern where big companies sail into cities and say they’re going to build 1 million-square-foot facilities with hundreds of loading docks, and all the planning is done to specification,” added Pill, a partner at the law firm. added Green Miles Lipton.
The proposed actual use of the property is not fully disclosed in Intel’s application for site plan review, making accurate determination impossible
Which brings us to the real problem: the issue of speculative planning, where details of new developments and other land changes are submitted to local officials for review and approval, but there’s no real idea of what will actually happen at any site. It is entirely possible for companies to successfully submit open-ended speculative planning applications, with ultimate use and eventual use becoming flexible and decided. A disadvantage is that it is therefore not possible to accurately model the impact of development.
This is a problem in Hudson and elsewhere in the US, albeit to different degrees. Plaintiffs in Intel’s case say the warehouse cleanup proposal is too speculative to consider: its ultimate purpose and who will use it is unclear.
“If things go according to plan, we don’t know who the tenants will be,” said Pill, speaking generally of speculative building applications. “So the traffic engineers come in with completely bogus traffic reports and it’s not until the thing is built that the community finds out, oh, it’s a big regional hub for Amazon or Walmart. It creates a traffic and livability nightmare, but it’s too late.”
The Hudson lawsuit, which asks the courts to assess the situation and decide whether Intel can proceed with its plans, claimed the tech giant “admits that certain assumptions were made about the facility’s potential uses because “the building is designed”. and speculatively entitled to grant the application to market the project and to find tenants.'”
Plaintiffs allege that “the proposed actual use of the property is not fully disclosed by Intel’s plan review application documents, making it impossible to make an accurate determination as to whether the proposed use is truly permissible under the Articles of Incorporation.”
Pill argued that there is no such thing as a generic warehouse at large companies. A small company has a warehouse. A tech giant has a non-trivial, sprawling logistics territory. So if an Internet giant writes in an application that it wants to build a warehouse, it can be anything: the officials don’t know what it’s all about. A huge logistics facility could be torn down without fully considering its far-reaching implications because boards don’t know what they are planning, it is said, which is a big problem.
In response to the lawsuit, Intel’s attorneys said in a filing that the proposed changes require city approval: “Because the proposed redevelopment is a permitted use in the zoning district, the project requires a site plan review by the City of Hudson Planning Board. In other words, everything is fine and officials should therefore give the green light.
However, plaintiffs allege that the filings submitted for this review, which are speculative in nature, do not truly reveal Intel’s full intent for the site and therefore it must be impossible to approve.
“You must think everyone in Hudson is an idiot,” Pill told us. “You must think that everyone is so gullible and stupid.”
A spokesman for Intel could not be reached for further comment. ®
https://www.theregister.com/2022/10/19/intel_massachusetts_dec/ Intel sues over future of historic DEC chip factory location • The Register