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Charlotte to give input on port design 

The City of Rochester and the Charlotte Community Association have agreed to work together to plan the future of the Port of Rochester. The cooperation is a big deal because many Charlotte residents were left with a bad taste and trust issues after the city's previous attempt to develop the port, says Jonathan Hardin, president of the Charlotte Community Association.

That proposal failed due to lack of funding. But some Charlotte residents felt that the city was trying to force an outsized project on their neighborhood. The proposal included a hotel and eight- to 10-story condominiums.

Some residents also objected to turning public land over to private use.

A common complaint about Rochester is that it doesn't do enough to take advantage of its waterfront — on the lake or the river. But attempts to invigorate the port area have met with mixed success, and some believe that, given Rochester's harsh winters, the port will always struggle to be a year-round destination.

All of that will likely be part of the discussion when the Charlotte Community Association holds a charrette, which is essentially an intense planning session, for the port sometime next year. The association is working with the Community Design Center Rochester to get funding for the event.

The ideas generated from the charrette will be turned into a vision plan, which the City of Rochester will use the next time it starts looking for developers for the port area. CDCR will put together the vision plan, and the city will pay for it.

Some residents are still wary about trusting the city, Hardin says. But the association was encouraged when Baye Muhammad, the city's commissioner of Neighborhood and Business Development, said at a recent meeting that the city is ready to start fresh with port planning, he says.

"We took that as, the huge buildings would be, you know, off the table," Hardin says.

The association has used the time since Mayor Lovely Warren pulled the plug on the previous proposal in June to rebuild its relationship with the city, he says.

"We have argued in the past that those lines of communication haven't always been open," Hardin says. "We believe that all the foundation we've laid this past year is starting to pay off, because we can now at least email them and get responses back."

Hardin says that some Charlotte residents want as much growth and development as possible, while others would like to see the port, and the neighborhood, stay the way it is. The association won't take sides, he says; the goal is just to make sure everyone is heard and part of the process.

"Of course you're not going to make everyone happy on any building project that you do," Hardin says.

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