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James Island Reincorporation

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hi,

I am pretty new to all of this......please bear with me. I have been back on James Island for 4 years, I havent lived here since a teen (its been awhile!). I remarried (my husband lived over here) and then quit my job to stay home & care for 1 of my children who has Spina Bifida.

Since I had more time during the day on my hands, I really wanted to become involved with my community, I have always loved James Island, it used to feel like a different little world when you would cross the bridge headed for home........laid back.......peaceful......beachy......nice. I was concerned (and ignorant) about what was happening with JI so I called Mary Clark (about 1 1/2 years ago). I was not at all impressed with her personally, she seemed uneducated & simple minded, but still a nice lady. I kept asking her WHY should we vote for JI and what I could do to help,( my main concern has always been the amount of developement over here.........if you havent taken a drive around the island lately, you should, there are condos, apartments, homes literally on top of each other) I spoke with Mary for about 1 hour on the phone, we did a lot of chatting about this and that, but I never got any clear answers. It was very evident that she did not like Riley & at the time I agreed with her. I'm sorry but he seems like a greedy snake............but will admit I have not studied up enough on his political career enough to say that full heartedly.

Out of frustration, I gave up on my ideas of helping out my community & possibly involving myself in politics on any level. (I also became consumed by some issues in my own neighborhood on James Island, that I have still not been able to resolve as my Street is City of Charleston, but my home is County. (and I cant get either one of them to take responsibility for our neighborhood issues)

Anyways, I am back in the loop again hopefully, I have read all of the posts listed on this site & done a little internet research to get "accquainted" with this mess again. But I am still CONFUSED!!

Since ultimately people are going to do what is best for them and their family/finances/etc. Here are my questions:

1) What are the benefits of having a town?

2) Is there anything to do about slowing down the rate of developement on this island as it seems every available piece of land is being built on

3) Who is really responsible for building all of those ugly townhomes on the way out to the beach.........it used to be such a nice drive.........

I guess once I figure out who's side I am on, then I can begin to involve myself politically as I believe I have something to offer on several different levels.........

I have received the letters from the city..........they seem harsh..........i have spoken with Mary Clark (added note: on more than one occasion) ........she seemed harsh.........

My husband and I are thinking of moving our family, I would love to stay on the island but refuse to pay $350,000 for a broken down home and I feel that James Island has lost a lot of its appeal for any type of quiet/laid back life.

We are definitely leaving our neighborhood (WhiteHouse Plantation) because of the crime (we have 3 crack houses in our neighborhood); the apathy of my neighbors when it comes to neighborhood issues; and the fact that I cannot call 911 without it being a confusing mess, I guess if I take my cell phone out to the street, I can say I am city, but If i decide to walk into my yard I'll need to call again & ask for county. (By the way get this: 3/4 of my street is City and about 4 homes; the rest are county; City Police will not help with speeding because the person complaining-me- is a county resident; County will not help because when they are actually speeding, they are in the city's jurisdiction????)

Help! I need some clear & concise answers!

sorry for the long post!

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Welcome to the forum, confused!

I will take a stab at answering some of these questions for you, but keep in mind that I am not from Charleston, though I am familiar with the issue. I am not an authority on the situation.

  1. The advantage to having an incorporated "Town of James Island" is that there would be more local control over what happens wihtin its boundaries. That includes zoning, emergency services, design codes, taxes, issuance of building permits, planning, and things of that nature.

  2. There realy isnt anything that can be done to stop the development, its going to happen in some form or another. It could be possible to alter the zoning and building regulations to only allow a certan type of development (for example, single family residential or townhouses). That could be an issue of contention though, because not everyone will agree to that arrangement.

  3. I have no idea who is building those townhomes. Perhaps someone more familiar with the area will speak up.
The problem with an incorporated "Town of James Island" is that you have areas, as you know, that are in the City of Charleston. Upon an incorporation, the parcels in the city will remain that way. James Island woud only incorporate the parts of the island that aren't in already the city. I will post a map later illustrating the situation. The incorporated James Island would not have that mcuh conrol over the entire island because its boundaries are so disjoointed. If you look at #1 above, you can see the types of things that municipalities control. James Island would not be consistantly developed because two separate municipalities would occupy the island itself. The incorporated municipality may change zoning and its comprehensive plan to make changes similar to what you desire, but the parts that remain in Charleston will not have those same rules, so the odds are that development will still happen in the parts that remain in Charleston.

In my opinion, James Islanders should request to be annexed into Charleston. Once the island is entirely in the city, a neighborhood organization can be formed (if one doesn't already exist) and still create a plan that reflects the community's desires. Or it could operate under the District You would accomplish the same goals that way, and not have an additional taxing body that supplies redundant services.

Here is a link to the City of Charleston Dept of Planning and Neighborhood Services. The Neighborhood Services explains what a neighborhood association can do.

The City of Charleston also has a Community Districts plan. This plan would help James Island have its desired look and feel. Here is a link to information on the districts plan. If remaining areas of James Island were to be annexed into the city, this would be beneficial to the Island.

Hopefully this information is useful to you. I will work on that map this afternoon. Take a look at some of those links, and let us know what you think, and if you have more questions!

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hi,

I am pretty new to all of this......please bear with me. I have been back on James Island for 4 years, I havent lived here since a teen (its been awhile!). I remarried (my husband lived over here) and then quit my job to stay home & care for 1 of my children who has Spina Bifida.

Since I had more time during the day on my hands, I really wanted to become involved with my community, I have always loved James Island, it used to feel like a different little world when you would cross the bridge headed for home........laid back.......peaceful......beachy......nice. I was concerned (and ignorant) about what was happening with JI so I called Mary Clark (about 1 1/2 years ago). I was not at all impressed with her personally, she seemed uneducated & simple minded, but still a nice lady. I kept asking her WHY should we vote for JI and what I could do to help,( my main concern has always been the amount of developement over here.........if you havent taken a drive around the island lately, you should, there are condos, apartments, homes literally on top of each other) I spoke with Mary for about 1 hour on the phone, we did a lot of chatting about this and that, but I never got any clear answers. It was very evident that she did not like Riley & at the time I agreed with her. I'm sorry but he seems like a greedy snake............but will admit I have not studied up enough on his political career enough to say that full heartedly.

Out of frustration, I gave up on my ideas of helping out my community & possibly involving myself in politics on any level. (I also became consumed by some issues in my own neighborhood on James Island, that I have still not been able to resolve as my Street is City of Charleston, but my home is County. (and I cant get either one of them to take responsibility for our neighborhood issues)

Anyways, I am back in the loop again hopefully, I have read all of the posts listed on this site & done a little internet research to get "accquainted" with this mess again. But I am still CONFUSED!!

Since ultimately people are going to do what is best for them and their family/finances/etc. Here are my questions:

1) What are the benefits of having a town?

2) Is there anything to do about slowing down the rate of developement on this island as it seems every available piece of land is being built on

3) Who is really responsible for building all of those ugly townhomes on the way out to the beach.........it used to be such a nice drive.........

I guess once I figure out who's side I am on, then I can begin to involve myself politically as I believe I have something to offer on several different levels.........

I have received the letters from the city..........they seem harsh..........i have spoken with Mary Clark (added note: on more than one occasion) ........she seemed harsh.........

My husband and I are thinking of moving our family, I would love to stay on the island but refuse to pay $350,000 for a broken down home and I feel that James Island has lost a lot of its appeal for any type of quiet/laid back life.

We are definitely leaving our neighborhood (WhiteHouse Plantation) because of the crime (we have 3 crack houses in our neighborhood); the apathy of my neighbors when it comes to neighborhood issues; and the fact that I cannot call 911 without it being a confusing mess, I guess if I take my cell phone out to the street, I can say I am city, but If i decide to walk into my yard I'll need to call again & ask for county. (By the way get this: 3/4 of my street is City and about 4 homes; the rest are county; City Police will not help with speeding because the person complaining-me- is a county resident; County will not help because when they are actually speeding, they are in the city's jurisdiction????)

Help! I need some clear & concise answers!

sorry for the long post!

Right now Charleston is cheaper than the county and if the law wasnt changed for James Island it would be significantly cheaper to live in Charleston.....However, that law looks confuses me... The only reason for forming the town seems to be for the sake of limiting developement, but that is the nature of our metro area, I personally feel that Charleston has more experience when it comes to development and I believe they will do the best job. I really dont have an idea of why it would be logical to establish James Island as a town when it will only have the power just to zone property and reject developments.

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Welcome to the forum, confused!

I will take a stab at answering some of these questions for you, but keep in mind that I am not from Charleston, though I am familiar with the issue. I am not an authority on the situation.

  1. The advantage to having an incorporated "Town of James Island" is that there would be more local control over what happens wihtin its boundaries. That includes zoning, emergency services, design codes, taxes, issuance of building permits, planning, and things of that nature.

  2. There realy isnt anything that can be done to stop the development, its going to happen in some form or another. It could be possible to alter the zoning and building regulations to only allow a certan type of development (for example, single family residential or townhouses). That could be an issue of contention though, because not everyone will agree to that arrangement.

  3. I have no idea who is building those townhomes. Perhaps someone more familiar with the area will speak up.
The problem with an incorporated "Town of James Island" is that you have areas, as you know, that are in the City of Charleston. Upon an incorporation, the parcels in the city will remain that way. James Island woud only incorporate the parts of the island that aren't in already the city. I will post a map later illustrating the situation. The incorporated James Island would not have that mcuh conrol over the entire island because its boundaries are so disjoointed. If you look at #1 above, you can see the types of things that municipalities control. James Island would not be consistantly developed because two separate municipalities would occupy the island itself. The incorporated municipality may change zoning and its comprehensive plan to make changes similar to what you desire, but the parts that remain in Charleston will not have those same rules, so the odds are that development will still happen in the parts that remain in Charleston.

In my opinion, James Islanders should request to be annexed into Charleston. Once the island is entirely in the city, a neighborhood organization can be formed (if one doesn't already exist) and still create a plan that reflects the community's desires. Or it could operate under the District You would accomplish the same goals that way, and not have an additional taxing body that supplies redundant services.

Here is a link to the City of Charleston Dept of Planning and Neighborhood Services. The Neighborhood Services explains what a neighborhood association can do.

The City of Charleston also has a Community Districts plan. This plan would help James Island have its desired look and feel. Here is a link to information on the districts plan. If remaining areas of James Island were to be annexed into the city, this would be beneficial to the Island.

Hopefully this information is useful to you. I will work on that map this afternoon. Take a look at some of those links, and let us know what you think, and if you have more questions!

thank you so much for the response! I am well aware of the planning department at the city, and cannot get any help from them either. I just mailed mysecond letter to the city's RMC office to find out if we even have a neighborhood association (i mailed a letter to every resident on my street and not one person knew if we had an association or not).

I believe you are right about annexing, we are just a small step away, I did email prior TOJI councilman Qualey also this morning at one last final attempt to get there side of the story without any Riley bashing. We have the annexation paperwork already, I just want to make sure that we are making the right decision for our family. i will be glad when this is all over...... thanks again!

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Sure thing.

I am suprised that the planning office was not helpful. If you do not have a neighborhood association, you can probably start one.

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I think the department that you want to contact is this one:

Jane Baker

Neighborhood Services Coordinator

75 Calhoun Street

Charleston, SC 29401

Phone (843) 724-3731

Fax (843) 724-3772

[email protected]

If by RMC office, you mean the Register of Mense Conveyance, that is a County department and deals with property titles. They would not be involved with Neighborhood associations or the like.

Good luck, I was president of my neighborhood association for a couple of years (in Columbia), it is a great way to get involved. If one doesn't exist, you should start one!

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James Islanders might face new taxes to support town

Hopefully, indecision on what if any taxes might be added to there taxes might undermine the incorporation effort. I think N. Chas, Mt. Pleasant, and Charleston should request patrols paid for by the county.

The at-large vs. single member issue had escaped me in regards to this issue. The change was a big step backwards fro Charleston County in my opinion. They had the best form of County elections in the state until they went to single-member.

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A very timely article. I have been saying that for a while. Taxes are already higher in the County than the City, so why vote for a new town that will just increase it even more?

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James Islanders might face new taxes to support town

Hopefully, indecision on what if any taxes might be added to there taxes might undermine the incorporation effort. I think N. Chas, Mt. Pleasant, and Charleston should request patrols paid for by the county.

The at-large vs. single member issue had escaped me in regards to this issue. The change was a big step backwards fro Charleston County in my opinion. They had the best form of County elections in the state until they went to single-member.

perhaps a discussion for another thread but, while making all council members accountable to the entire area, it also makes it more difficult for underrepresented areas or groups to be heard. If there is a council member accountable specifically to those people, their issues are more likely to be addressed.

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The simple answer is to do both. Have some elected by district and others at large.

^ waaay to pratical to actually be used in government...:)

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Hah!

Many cities do it though. I know that Columbia's goverment is set up that way. I think Greenville too.

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thank you so much for the response! I am well aware of the planning department at the city, and cannot get any help from them either. I just mailed mysecond letter to the city's RMC office to find out if we even have a neighborhood association (i mailed a letter to every resident on my street and not one person knew if we had an association or not).

I believe you are right about annexing, we are just a small step away, I did email prior TOJI councilman Qualey also this morning at one last final attempt to get there side of the story without any Riley bashing. We have the annexation paperwork already, I just want to make sure that we are making the right decision for our family. i will be glad when this is all over...... thanks again!

Hi confused, I read your posts, and I have to say that I'm not surprised with the response you've received from Mary Clark. This in my opinion of course, but I believe she offers no rational reasons to form this town. Her only reasons for this incorporation movement are based on irrational hatred of Mayor Riley and the city of Chas. I admit, I am not an adamant supporter of Riley, since I feel there are some problems in the city he has not attempted to solve. However, my opinions of this incorporation are in line with his. It just does not make sense to have redundant bureaucracies serving different sections on the barrier island.

The only perceived benefit of forming the town, according to the pro-town people, is that people on James Island will have more local input and control over development. This stems from the aforementioned hatred of the city that supporters such as Clark have, claiming that the city has let developers run rampant in building more houses, condos, and shopping centers.

However, this rationale is completely bogus. What town supporters won't tell you is that much of the development that occurred on the island was outside city limits! The city started annexing land in the late 1970s, but many neighborhoods were being built or already existed, with the county providing zoning and allowing for construction. Unincorporated areas continued to be developed under very loose county ordinances, only to have the city annex the properties later, after they were completed. The blame cannot be blamed squarely on the city...the county provided the impetus for James Island to become what it is today. If the remaining James Island residents want more control of how the island is developed, it would be most logical to annex into the city of Chas. The city already provides many services to the island including recreation facilities, trash, sewer, and zoning. The proposed town would only provide the last service listed. James Island is also historically an integrated part of the city of Chas.

As far as controlling development, the city has a detailed plan of what James Island could be, which requires their expertise in zoning. Now, the fact is that many people are continuing to move to Chas, so I don't think JI can be preserved exactly like it is. However, if the whole island were in the city, another city councilman would have to be added to represent the additional population. I believe this would give residents what they desire: more local input.

I understand your frustration with the police concerning your street, but this is just another example of why the whole island should be in the city. City and county police cannot overstep jurisdictions...that just causes a whole load of legal problems. The problem will not be solved if the rest of JI incorporates, it will only continue. Anyway, if you can be annexed, I would suggest that you do that. Then, you can start up your own neighborhood association to help rid your neighborhood of these criminals.

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Hi confused, I read your posts, and I have to say that I'm not surprised with the response you've received from Mary Clark. This in my opinion of course, but I believe she offers no rational reasons to form this town. Her only reasons for this incorporation movement are based on irrational hatred of Mayor Riley and the city of Chas. I admit, I am not an adamant supporter of Riley, since I feel there are some problems in the city he has not attempted to solve. However, my opinions of this incorporation are in line with his. It just does not make sense to have redundant bureaucracies serving different sections on the barrier island.

The only perceived benefit of forming the town, according to the pro-town people, is that people on James Island will have more local input and control over development. This stems from the aforementioned hatred of the city that supporters such as Clark have, claiming that the city has let developers run rampant in building more houses, condos, and shopping centers.

However, this rationale is completely bogus. What town supporters won't tell you is that much of the development that occurred on the island was outside city limits! The city started annexing land in the late 1970s, but many neighborhoods were being built or already existed, with the county providing zoning and allowing for construction. Unincorporated areas continued to be developed under very loose county ordinances, only to have the city annex the properties later, after they were completed. The blame cannot be blamed squarely on the city...the county provided the impetus for James Island to become what it is today. If the remaining James Island residents want more control of how the island is developed, it would be most logical to annex into the city of Chas. The city already provides many services to the island including recreation facilities, trash, sewer, and zoning. The proposed town would only provide the last service listed. James Island is also historically an integrated part of the city of Chas.

As far as controlling development, the city has a detailed plan of what James Island could be, which requires their expertise in zoning. Now, the fact is that many people are continuing to move to Chas, so I don't think JI can be preserved exactly like it is. However, if the whole island were in the city, another city councilman would have to be added to represent the additional population. I believe this would give residents what they desire: more local input.

I understand your frustration with the police concerning your street, but this is just another example of why the whole island should be in the city. City and county police cannot overstep jurisdictions...that just causes a whole load of legal problems. The problem will not be solved if the rest of JI incorporates, it will only continue. Anyway, if you can be annexed, I would suggest that you do that. Then, you can start up your own neighborhood association to help rid your neighborhood of these criminals.

Wow, thanks for the info, i havent been able to check online for awhile, i have to tell you i have gotten more information for you guys then i have from anyone else on this island. I believe that you are right, we have decided to vote against the incorporation in this upcoming election. I dont know what good it will do though, James Island has a terrible voter turnout.........those that want the town will vote, the rest either dont care what happens or are like I was a few months ago, to busy/consumed with life to get involved. I hope for the sake of James Island it (the incorporation) dosnt happen again.

p.s. did anyone read Mary Clarks letter to the Editor in THE JOURNAL on May 11, 2006. If so , what did you think? There were a couple of comments my husband and I could just not figure out.

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...p.s. did anyone read Mary Clarks letter to the Editor in THE JOURNAL on May 11, 2006. If so , what did you think? There were a couple of comments my husband and I could just not figure out.

Do you have a link or a website that we could go to and take a look at it? I'm not sure of what publication you are referring to.

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Do you have a link or a website that we could go to and take a look at it? I'm not sure of what publication you are referring to.

i have emailed someone at THE JOURNAL to ask if I can get a copy of the letter. they do not have an online archive system, i thought they were associated to the post & courier ( i get the journal with my newspaper once a week) but apparently they are not, as soon as i can get some type of link I will post..........

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Apparently, the town incorporation effort is not being as well-supported as it was in the past two elections. A group has formed which is basically anti-town and anti-city. They want things to be the same as they are, with the rest of the island remaining unincorporated. The group's argument is that the aggressive annexations by the cities of Charleston and Folly Beach are a result of James Island's attempts to form a town. If James Island would discard its erroneous illusions of incorporation, the neighboring cities might slow their attempts to grow their limits on the island, the group suggests. The article link about it is below.

While I encourage the group to oppose the town, I disagree with the group's thinking. First of all, public service districts are unnecessary and duplicative organizations in an urban area. They are obsolete forms of government services, to be honest. Second, these residents want to have their cake and eat it too. They basically want municipal services without paying what is required for them. Third, studies have already shown that it is now cheaper to live in the city than remain in an unincorporated area.

I hope this group is successful in getting its message out, and the town is voted down. However, the group's usefulness should end there as the city of Chas can then continue to annex the island and make it what it should be: a fully-integrated part of the city.

Some folks on J.I. ask the question: how about no town at all?

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Charleston has been aggressively annexing unincorporated territory for a while now, so it would be folly to think that the city would stop just because a new town of James Island wouldn't be formed. I tell you, this situation shows the utter contrast of the logic behind SC's annexation laws and NC's annexation laws. In NC, the reasoning is that once an area hits a certain density and is within a certain distance of an established municipality, the unincorporated area shouldn't get to mooch off the municipality for free in terms of services, so it is reined into the city limits. James Islanders need to realize the benefits of being annexed into the city limits of Charleston. Their taxes will be lower, and it will make for a stronger city of Charleston, the place they identify with anyway, so why not officially become residents of the city?

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Krazee, you and I are definitely on the same page here. When I read about NC annexation laws, it is quite amazing how they embrace common sense, yet our state's bureaucracies continue to reject it. We can learn so much from our neighbors' cities, especially when we see how much stronger and more prosperous they are.

...I dont know what good it will do though, James Island has a terrible voter turnout.........those that want the town will vote, the rest either dont care what happens or are like I was a few months ago, to busy/consumed with life to get involved. I hope for the sake of James Island it (the incorporation) dosnt happen again...

Confused, it is interesting that you mention about JI's poor voter turnout. I think many of the town's supporters know this and take advantage of that fact. I believe they intentionally do not schedule the vote for incorporation on General Election Day because they know that if most of the people on the island had a chance to vote, the town would be voted down. If the vote is scheduled for a regular business day, most of the working people on JI are too busy to vote. Many businesses will not give them time off to vote, unlike Election Day.

More news on this event: the article link below will make you either laugh or shake your head in disbelief. The former "mayor-in-exile" of JI, Mary Clark, has challenged Mayor Riley to a debate on incorporation. :rolleyes: I actually hope the mayor accepts the debate. Intellectually, I think the mayor would win, hands down. This statement he made yesterday sums up the argument perfectly: "'All reasonable people know that the town is going to end up costing them much more than money, the town is not going to get any free ride from the county, and it is an added layer of bureaucracy that most James Islanders do not want or need."

Mary Clark calls for debate with Chas mayor on incorporation

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^ The debate would make for great theater, if nothing else. Gentlemanly, reserved Mayor Riley against an angry firebrand like Mary Clark? I'm thinking Meet the Press crossed with The Jerry Springer Show. Me, I want a front row seat when the punches start to fly!

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^ The debate would make for great theater, if nothing else. Gentlemanly, reserved Mayor Riley against an angry firebrand like Mary Clark? I'm thinking Meet the Press crossed with The Jerry Springer Show. Me, I want a front row seat when the punches start to fly!

:rofl:

I hope Riley takes her up on this one. It would only help. Hopefully he'll throw in something about the state's archaic, asinine annexation laws as well.

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Why are SC's annexation laws so strict. I don't understand...Does the state government not see how it is hurting our cities? Our cities can barely expand their borders without it sounding aggressive when it's really supposed to be a natural process like the other 49 states

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Our state still relishes the days when ruralism was the order of the day; it has failed to recognize that our state now has more of its population residing in urban areas. Basically it's about the rights of the individual landowner while ignoring the common good.

And it could be worse actually; some states have no annexation laws whatsoever.

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