The Rockland City Council is sending back to the Planning Board the proposed contract zone for a Midcoast Habitat for Humanity housing development on Talbot Avenue.

Councilors agreed at their April 7 meeting to send it back to the Planning Board for their recommendations. The Planning Board held a public hearing and sent list of issues raised by the public.

City Attorney Mary Costigan said, however, contract zones require a recommendation from the Planning Board.

The Council was scheduled to take a preliminary vote April 12 on granting Habitat a contract zone. By sending it back to the Planning Board, the Council's initial vote on the proposal will be delayed until at least May 10.

Habitat proposes building eight rental efficiency/one-bedroom residences that will each be 500 square feet; and three rental duplexes that will each have a one-bedroom (1,000 square-foot) and a three-bedroom (1,200-square foot) residence.

The rental properties would be managed by the Knox County Homeless Coalition.

There would also be four single-family homes each ranging in size from 1,000 to 1,500-square feet that would be sold to qualified applicants. Habitat homeowners must meet income guidelines and contribute sweat equity to the construction of their homes.

Professional Engineer Michael Sabatini said the plan has been modified since the original proposal by reducing the number of single family homes from five to four. In addition, the length of the road in the development would be reduced from 1,000 to 600 feet long.

Habitat Executive Director Tia Anderson told councilors there is absolutely a demand for this type of housing.

The 10.6 acres of undeveloped land is on the north side of Talbot Avenue, between Traverse Street and JRL Drive. Habitat purchased the land in June 2020 for $200,000.

A contract zone is needed, because the 500-square-foot residences are less than the current minimum 750-square-foot required in the residential A zone where the land is located.

The contract zone would also reduce the front setback from the road in the subdivision from 25 feet to 15 feet to maximize the distance of buildings from abutting properties and to have the buildings more in the center of the property rather than near the existing roads surrounding the propery.