ROCKLAND — The Rockland Planning Board plans to again visit the Talbot Avenue property where Mid-Coast Habitat for Humanity plans to build 13 residences at its Monday, Dec. 20 meeting.

The project is expected to face another review by the Planning Board in January. The city is waiting for Wright-Pierce engineers to submit its review of Habitat’s stormwater management plan for the residential development. One of the stipulations in the contract zone approved by the City Council was an independent review be done of the developer’s stormwater management plan. The city selected Wright Pierce, and Habitat is paying that cost.

Mid-Coast Habitat Executive Director Tia Anderson told the Planning Board at its Tuesday, Dec. 7 meeting the project would be phased in over three years.

The first phase will be the six 700 square-foot homes to be managed by the Knox County Homeless Coalition.  The second phase will be two duplexes with a total footprint of 1,800 square feet, also to be managed by the Homeless Coalition. The final phase would be the three Habitat homes of 900 square feet. The Habitat homes may have second floors.

The project is scaled back from the original plan of 18 residences.

The project will be located on a section of a 10.6-acre lot at 165 Talbot Ave., which abuts Talbot Avenue and a small section of Traverse Street.

Leslie Piercy of Talbot Avenue submitted a letter to the Board for the Dec. 7 meeting, saying the land was not habitable for people, and was important for wildlife. She said there should be a moratorium on the project until the city deals with stormwater issues. Chair Erik Laustsen said anyone seeking a moratorium would need to go the City Council.

The project comes as the region is experiencing an acute shortage of affordable housing. Laustsen asked Anderson what would be the impact if the city were to impose a moratorium on new construction in the Lindsey Brook watershed until the city made improvements to the stormwater management system.

Anderson said Habitat would want to begin work as soon as possible.

“We have a housing crisis,” Anderson said, adding that a moratorium would be another barrier to providing affordable housing.

Neighbors argued against the project, saying it worsens flooding problems downstream along Lindsey Brook.

Susan Beebe said there should be a 100-foot buffer between the wetlands on the property and any development. She said road salt, oil, gas, and fertilizer would damage the environment. She said cats from the residences would devastate the bird population.

Engineer Michael Sabatini said the project is being designed so the flow off the property would be less than occurs now.

Utilities would be underground. The proposed deed covenants would prohibit animals other than pets. Sprinklers would be included in each residence.

Habitat purchased the property in June 2020 and went before the city to get the contract zone change, which first had to go before the Planning Board for its recommendations.

The Rockland City Council voted 4-1 at its June 14, 2021, meeting — Councilor Louise MacLellan-Ruf opposed — to approve a contract zone change to allow for the development to go before the Planning Board.