ROCKLAND — Midcoast Habitat for Humanity cleared one of two hurdles that came up at last month’s meeting in which preliminary approval for the affordable housing project on Talbot Avenue was expected.

A March 31 email from Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Wildlife Biologist Becca Settele stated based on the information provided “we no longer have concerns regarding vernal pools on site.”

At the Rockland Planning Board’s March 22 meeting, the Board postponed approval of the project because of a letter from the state agency saying more information was needed to determine whether there were vernal pools on the portions of the property that will be developed.

Engineer Mike Sabatini said at the March meeting a wetland specialist toured the site in the fall and found no evidence there were any vernal pools. Planning Board Chair Erik Laustsen recommended the engineer contact the state agency and settle the question. A subsequent inspection of property by a wetland surveyor was done.

The March 31 email was the response from the state agency on the additional information.

Vernal pools or “spring pools” are shallow depressions that usually contain water for only part of the year. The vernal pools serve as essential breeding habitat for certain species of wildlife, including salamanders and frogs (amphibians). Juvenile and adult amphibians associated with vernal pools provide an important food source for small carnivores as well as large game species.

Yet to be settled is the letter from the superintendent of the Rockland Wastewater Department Terry Pinto that there needed to be a separation of stormwater and sewer along a 150-foot stretch of Center Street before he would approve a connection for the Firefly Field development to the city’s wastewater system.

In an email to the Courier Gazette March 22 Pinto said, “This was discussed with the developer in the beginning of the project. It doesn’t matter to the wastewater department who pays for it. Our position is no connection of the subdivision to the sanitary sewer line until the upper end of the line size be changed from 6 inches to 8 inches and all storm(water) be removed. This will minimize the possibility of raw sewage overflowing into the brook during large rain storms.”

Sabatini said the stormwater from the development will be going toward Talbot Avenue not the Center Street line, but Pinto said he will not sign off on a connection for any additional sewage to enter the system until the stormwater/separation project is done.

The Board mentioned a new house was built in the neighborhood and it was allowed to hook into the sewer system without contributing to a storm/sewer separation. Pinto said last month the requirement is for a subdivision not a single home.

Pinto said it does not matter to him who pays for the separation of stormwater and sewage along the Center Street line. He pointed out the city has been willing to credit Habitat’s $32,500 sewer capacity fee in exchange for the separation project.

The Planning Board is scheduled to meet April 19 to further discuss the proposed housing project.

Habitat plans to build 13 residences on the 10.6-acre lot. 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.