The former Pizza Hut at 507 Main Street, as seen from the rear of the structure  on Smith Lane, is destined to be demolished, with a three unit establishment in its place – including, according to an attorney for the developer, a Chipotle Mexican Grill. Tammy Wells Photo

SACO — A Michigan developer has been given the green light by Saco City Council for a contract zone that will allow a Chipotle Mexican Grill, along with two other establishments at the 507 Main St. location of the now defunct Pizza Hut restaurant.

Alrig USA Development LLC proposes to demolish the existing building at 507 Main St. and replace it with a 5,363-foot commercial building divided into three segments.

The vote was 6-1 with Councilor Phillp Hatch, citing the prospect of increased traffic at the location, dissenting. He also questioned whether Chipotle’s location was a certainty.

Attorney Jason Howe of Preti Flaherty, representing Alrig USA Development LLC, said it is.

Howe said the company has a signed lease with Chipotle, contingent on the development company closing on the real estate for which it currently has an option, and approval of the contract zone.

The now-defunct Pizza Hut at Main Street and Smith Lane in Saco will be demolished and a new three-unit establishment, including a Chipotle Mexican Grill, is slated go up in its place. The Saco City Council approved a contract zone for the 507 Main Street property a week ago. Tammy Wells Photo

A contract zone was sought because Alrig submitted its application to the Planning Board in January and learned that the city’s zoning ordinance was in the process of an update.

The property is in the Highway Business zone, which allows restaurants.

One factor in the decision to request a contract was that under the city’s new zoning laws, parking in front of the building would not be allowed, though it was under the zoning in place prior to the City Council’s adoption of the new zoning earlier this year.

Documents on file with the city show that Alrig also wanted to ensure that a drive-thru would be allowed — the zoning requires a five-foot setback, and the company sought to reduce that to three or four feet under the terms of the contract zone.

The city had requested an easement that would allow future development of a connector road between Smith Lane and Stockman Avenue. Alrig, said Howe, will give the property to the city.

“An easement is requested, you are getting a deed, pending closing on the property,” said Howe.

Smith Lane is the street between the former Pizza Hut property and KFC, and also  links to a development of apartments and townhouses.

At a June public hearing on the proposal, Ron Giles, who owns the KFC across Smith Lane from the proposed Alrig development, called the three-unit project a “mini strip mall,” that he believes would cause traffic back-ups.

“With three separate businesses it will put much more traffic on that small street that also services the apartments in the back,” Giles said at the June 21 hearing.

At the July 12 City Council meeting, Hatch said traffic studies haven’t been performed. Councilor Jodi MacPhail said those would come through the Planning Board process.

“If you look at that property, going in won’t be an issue, the parking lot is large enough,” said MacPhail, noting there are deeper concerns with other nearby fast-food locations. She said the traffic signal at Smith Lane will split the amount of traffic on the street as motorists choose whether to go left or right onto Main Street, or straight ahead onto Hutchins Street.

Anything at the site would have an impact on traffic, Councilor Nathan Johnston said, but he took note of the arrangement for the strip of land at the rear of the parcel.

While Chipotle was named specifically in documents from Alrig Development to the city — and the company’s attorney said it has a signed lease with the popular Mexican grill restaurant, pending the closing and contract zone provisions — documents do not include named tenants for the other two spaces. However, the sub shop called Jersey Mike’s lists the 507 Main St. location as among four Maine locations for new shops — the others, also listed as “coming soon” are in Brunswick, Topsham, and Windham.

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