Charlotte Community Association
General Membership Meeting Minutes
March 30, 2015, 7 PM
Robach Community Center


To build a stronger community and to enhance the lives of our residents by providing a forum for sharing information, connecting neighbors and stakeholders, and fostering civic engagement while preserving and promoting the heritage of the Village of Charlotte.

Call to Order / Attendance

Meeting called to order by President Clare Stortini at 7:01 pm with 47 people present (plus board members). In Attendance: Clare Stortini, president; Matt Juda, vice president;

Susan Miller, treasurer; Sue Roethel, secretary; Brian Labigan, director; Patti O’Brien, director; Patrick O’Neill, director; Pam Postgate, director

A moment of silence was observed in memory of Florence Walsh, former CCA board member who recently passed.

Newly appointed board members Matt Juda and Pat O’Neill were introduced. Matt joins the board as vice president and Pat joins as director. Both will complete the term which expires on December 31, 2015. One more director seat on the board remains unfilled.

Guest Speakers

Invited guests from the Community Design Center Rochester (CDCR)were Joni Monroe, Executive Director; Roger Brown, Creative Consultant; and Sebastian Baliva, Project, Program and Design Coordinator. They presented “The Charrette and Community Vision Plan Process.”

What is the CDCR?

The CDCR is a non-­‐profit organization headquartered in downtown Rochester. They have been serving a nine-­‐county area around Rochester for more than ten years. It is part of a national system of over 100 community design centers across the U.S. that provide assistance to communities with designing and planning for their future. The following description is taken from their website,

“The Community Design Center of Rochester (CDCR) is a non-­‐profit organization of design professionals promoting healthy, sustainable communities by encouraging quality design of the built environment and thoughtful use of built and natural resources. We do this by providing technical assistance and access to educational and training opportunities that increase awareness about the built environment, the impact of design and the importance of good urban planning. By actively engaging through partnerships in city and regional initiatives that include guiding communities in creating vision plans and encouraging community involvement in planning and developing processes, CDCR plays a critical role as an advocate for good design in the Greater Rochester Region.”

The CDCR operates under a board of directors and approximately 150 volunteers who are mostly architects trained as facilitators. They are hired by communities to help them articulate a vision for an improved quality of life in their neighborhood for the future. The CDCR does this in a neutral, inclusionary way. They are not political and have no agenda. They are all about citizen involvement and using principles of good design for the best possible outcomes. Restoration and historical preservation is their passion, and they focus on the public realm along with green practices. They serve as a design resource center with a large collection of books on urban design, a design studio to host events, and consultants for cities, towns, villages and large urban neighborhoods. They also have a development/design funding program that offers grants for pre-­‐development work. Sources of funding are corporate sponsorships, foundation grants, fee-­‐based, and/or individual donations.

What is a Charrette and Vision Plan?

A charrette is brainstorming session over a series of months that brings together community members and design professionals to create collaborative solutions for cities, towns, and neighborhoods. It begins with a walk through the neighborhood to see what’s there now, followed by a series of workshops facilitated by design professionals to solicit input from all attendees to produce sketches of dream neighborhoods and landscapes. Then the CDCR creates a consolidated report, or Vision Plan, of all the ideas from the charrette. The report can include materials such as posters, brochures, etc. with maps, drawings, photos and written commentary. It covers land use, gateways, transportation and connections.

The CDCR considers the charrette process as the antidote to the conventional, top-­‐down planning practices that usually generate controversy and delay. They believe this process can help build public trust and support for community change. Through the process, neighbors learn to trust each other, compromise, and articulate their dreams. At the end of the process, the community has a Vision Plan that they can take to government and foundation founders when they apply for construction grants to transform their environment.

The CDCR has facilitated 31 charrettes and vision plans that include the neighborhoods of Corn Hill, Upper Monroe, Dewey Avenue/Maplewood, Susan B. Anthony, Joseph Avenue, Marketview Heights, Beechwood, University Avenue/Artwalk, Rochester’s Center City; the villages of Spencerport, Churchville, Pittsford, Lima, Macedon, Williamson, Penn Yan; and the towns of Greece and Brighton.

What are the principles for good urban design?

  • The idea of “outdoor living room”
  • Makes a community more economically viable (commercial and residential)
  • Creation and addition of more green, civic spaces
  • Preservation of historic landmarks

What elements can a Vision Plan demonstrate?

  • Livability
  • Sustainability
  • Opening more green space and recreational space
  • How to turn liabilities (eyesore buildings) into assets
  • Building façade improvements
  • Develop branding with a new logo

Q & A with the CDCR

Q. If we hire you (CDCR), what does that do for us in dealing with the City of Rochester?
  1. A. Without a community-­‐driven vision plan, you are vulnerable to outside forces imposing their vision and plans.
Q. Have you been hired by the City to work with us?
  1. No!
Q. How would we get a charrette started?
  1. Through an agreement between the CDCR and community leaders.
Q. We cannot count on the City to take care of us; we have to take care of ourselves, right?
  1. A. It’s healthier for citizens to drive/generate creative changes (in their neighborhood). There has been a movement in the last 10-­‐15 years where communities have taken charge of their own destiny through civic visioning and planning.
Q. What is the cost?
  1. The CCA would negotiate this.
Q. What about the Port?
  1. Communities need to take into account all issues, both negative and positive. The community decides how much they want to include in the scope. Parking, for instance, would be an important piece to look at in Charlotte.
Q. How much land area can be included? For example, the Port area is 22 acres. A charrette is late for the Port, but can you risk including uses of land that may or may not be slated for change already?
  1. Yes. A variety of outreach and sharing would be solidified if Charlotte did a Vision Plan to document and encapsulate your ideas. It would be the voice of the community. The more organized and shared the voice is, the better the outcome.
Q. Where is the Vision Plan kept?
  1. Every community decides for For example, Corn Hill gave the City a formal presentation of their Vision Plan. The Joseph Avenue Business Association went around door to door in person to share their information.

Open Discussion with the CCA Board

After the guest presenters left the meeting, this was the immediate feedback from the audience:

  • (Carl Giardino) The charrette and vision plan is a wonderful idea; great start forward to get the community together so we can tell the City what we
  • (Mary Vogel)The CDCR gave a non-­‐political presentation; they have nothing to sell. From the overview, it looks like a helpful tool.
  • (Suzanne Phillips) I’m concerned about the huge, immediate problem we’re facing with the I love the idea of a charrette for the entire Charlotte neighborhood; we can be as proud as any neighborhood. Meanwhile, though, we have this horrendous problem facing us with the marina construction.
  • (Amanda Mendel) Having a plan and a structure has a lot of weight with the A comprehensive plan on file would be much better to formally present it
  • (Mary Vogel) Fill in the hole (marina) and eat the $20M.
  • (Sue Reynolds) It would give us our own plan, one voice, of how to handle We haven’t had one voice. It would give us more power.
  • (Tony Micciche) “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail!” It would bring expertise It’s a great plan to do.
  • (Maureen Staves) Will a charrette improve the parcel of land down at the port?
  • (Clare Stortini, to answer Maureen’s question) Nothing’s off the If the community wants to focus on the port, then that’s what we do. Let’s start the conversations.
  • (Craig Ristuccia) Where would we start?
  • (Clare Stortini, to answer Craig’s question) Nationally, a comprehensive vision plan typically costs $100K-­‐$500K Corn Hill’s was $45K through CDCR. CDCR offers grants; we need to explore all options.
  • (Brian Labigan) We need to decide whether we want to do this as a group. Cost is always an There’s some brainstorming we can do on our own, but we should start talking about it. We would need to dedicate a year to focus on it. First we need to decide whether we want to do it. We need a vote. Let’s not let it be a small group deciding our fate. We need to think globally.
  • (Donna Bour-­‐Purdy) Thanks to the CCA board for having the vision to invite CDCR to present this. We need some credibility through a documented process and a documented vision. We need to think big!
  • (Marianne Warfle) As the Port of Charlotte Merchants Association (POCMA) president, I thank the CCA board for this. The most important thing we need to do is work together—all groups, including the CCA, POCMA, Charlotte Community Development Corporation (CCDC), CHARLOTTE Strong—everyone!
  • (Virginia Kobylarz) We’ve been trying to do this for five
  • (Marianne Warfle) But it’s not working. We all need to get together and use the charrette to communicate to the City from all of The CDCR is a professional group. They’re legitimate. We should embrace the process as one community.
  • (Sue Miller) Each group needs to be represented and we need to be one
  • (Joe Genova) Families come down here and we’re going to lose that with the current plan (for the port). We should not let high rises
  • (Alex White) The current vision for Rochester is going to happen over you if you don’t have a CDCR offers a plan that could give us a powerful tool, a fighting chance with the City. This is a way to fall back on. It can be an incredibly powerful tool.
  • (Molly Clifford) This is a great idea to bring everyone What is the CCA board’s next steps?
  • (Clare Stortini, in response to Molly’s question) We need to continue the The board meets tomorrow to debrief. We will discuss again with the community at the next CCA general meeting on April 6th.
  • (Matt Juda) I like the inclusiveness of a full-­‐neighborhood charrette. It needs to focus on everything, all areas in the neighborhood, not just the port. We need a comprehensive plan that incorporates all areas.
  • (Suzanne Phillips) If all other groups feel the same way, would the CCA be willing to go to the City and ask them for a moratorium on development, to give us a year to do the charrette?
  • (Clare Stortini, in response to Suzanne’s question) Joni Monroe talked about a moratorium that one neighborhood got the City to activate. Can we ask the City to stop this whole development at the port and let us do a charrette and vision plan? We need to find out what it would mean for development elsewhere in the neighborhood.
  • (Virginia Kobylarz) We need a plan taking the entire village and establishing a “Lakeport Village on the St. Lawrence/Great Lakes Basin,” separate from the circle of the City.
  • (Carl Giardino) We should learn from our past that ten members of the community do not make a decision. More than the 50 people in this room should have a voice
  • (Joe Sirianni) A charrette is a good opportunity that, if we do this as a community, we can look at more than just a target From my experience in the corporate world, the City will do and tell us what they want regarding the marina and land sale. Edgewater has until September to meet zoning requirements, so how does that work?
  • (Clare Stortini, in response to Joe’s question) The CCA needs to be more mindful and get the City to tell us what’s going on with the port development plans
  • (Ed Steinberg) The City put forth what it wanted to do and thought it was the best plan to move Charlotte forward. They determined the parcels, how to transform/repurpose them, sell them and build tall buildings that are out of character in I advocate to object to this; to be objective! Ask yourselves what does the CCA want?
  • (Tony Rosati) We have what we want in writing in a book that was given to Mayor Tom It describes what we want. Sounds like a charrette. When I came here tonight, I was not in favor of the CDCR. After their presentation, I have changed my mind and am now in favor of them.
  • (Terri Robach) We did tell the City no (about the current plan), but we didn’t tell them what our yeses are!
  • (Amanda Mendel) Would the board consider a ballot in the newsletter?

After this lively discussion ended, Clare took a poll of the audience and board members to find out whether people would support the charrette, including a moratorium on development at the port. Everyone in the room said YES, except for 3 or 4 people.

Next steps: The board needs to find out how the members wish to proceed. The CCA has a membership of approximately 300 people. Our by-­‐laws dictate that a quorum of the paid membership is needed to be present for an official vote, then 2/3 majority is required for approval. We represent our members and Charlotte residents. For CCA to facilitate an official vote, there would need to be a ballot in the next newsletter or a special mailing to all members.

Next CCA General Meeting

Monday, April 6th, 7pm, Robach Community Center


Meeting adjourned at 8:57 pm.

Minutes submitted by Sue Roethel, secretary.