Several city councilors expressed concerns last night at a proposal to open a Chipotle Mexican Grill location at the former Main Street Ford site.
Their concerns, expressed during a Tuesday, May 29 public hearing at City Hall, centered on recent reports of Chipotle being investigated for its hiring practices as well as the developer not yet submitting a traffic plan for the site. Ultimately, councilors plan to continue the public hearing at its next meeting on June 11.
Last night’s hearing was held to review Chipotle’s request to operate a fast-food establishment, in accordance with city ordinances. In November of 2011, the City Council gave approval to reducing the number of parking spaces at the site, which allowed the project to progress.
Waltham Ventures LLC is planning to open a Chipotle at what was formerly known as 1006/1022 Main St., but has been rebranded known as 1030 Main St, according to attorney Joseph Connors, who represents Waltham Ventures. The store would have 41 seats, and eight seats on a seasonal patio, according to Keith Bettencourt, of KB Architects, which is designing the Chipotle location. The store would span approximately 2,333 square feet, according to Bettencourt.
Chipotle also plans to seek a full liquor license or a beer/wine license, but has not yet officially filed paperwork for it, according to Bettencourt. Bettencourt did not specify whether Chipotle would be seeking a new license that would possibly be issued under a proposal to distribute additional licenses throughout the city, or an existing license.
The store’s hours would be 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. every day.
- In response to inquiries from City Councilor Gary Marchese, Bettencourt court said he would try to provide more information on how Chipotle would avoid illegal hiring practices for which they are currently under investigation. Federal authorities are investigating whether the company has hired illegal immigrants in the past.
- City Council Edmund Tarallo, in an interview on Wednesday, May 30, said the developers have not yet submitted a traffic report detailing the impact Chipotle and the other tenants would have on the site.
- Tarallo said the previously the developers had performed a traffic study prior to potential tenants being revealed, but that a new one was necessary to specifically examine the impact of Chipotle and others.
- “This is a new case. We haven’t reviewed the traffic based on a fast food restaurant,” Tarallo said.
- A new traffic report, Tarallo said, should have been submitted prior to last night’s hearing.
- THe project's traffic enginner, Kevin Dandrade, said he is "comfortable" with the prior study and should be adequate for fast food uses.
- Also, councilors asked project officials to provide assurances that all potential tenants involved in the project have lease agreements with the property’s owner Waltham Ventures LLC. Councilors said that was necessary because the previous owner, under which prior project approvals were given, had sold the property to Waltham Ventures LLC.
- The store will not be LEED certified, but will attempt to follow those principles, Bettencourt said in response to a question from City Councilor George Darcy. LEED is a set of buildings standards intended to make buildings more environmentally-friendly and sustainable, according to the U.S. Green Buildings Council.
- "I think it's going to bring a lot of new jobs," said Waltham resident Margaret Bailey, who said she plans to seek at a job at one of the site's future tenants. "I'm hoping it will go through."
- Chipotle would also use locally-grown fod in their meals, accordoing to Bettencourt. He, however, acknowledged that does not necessairily mean they would use Waltham sources, but could use locations from surrounding communities.