Hollymead, Biscuit Run Approved

As all developments inevitably are, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved both the Biscuit Run and Hollymead developments during last night’s meeting.

Biscuit Run’s 3,100 housing units will go in just south of town, courtesy of developer Hunter Craig, bringing many thousands of new residents to the area. Accompanying the development is $41.1M in proffers, as per the county’s policies, which will not even begin to cover what we’ll all pay in taxes to cover Biscuit Run, which the county estimates will run us $222M. Had the county not rezoned the land, its developers would have been limited to less than 1,400 houses. It will be the largest housing development in county history.

And then there’s Hollymead, the expansion of the existing “Hollymead Town Center.” That’s 1,200 housing units and 278,000 square feet of commercial space. The developer wouldn’t provide a proffer for improvements to damage they’ve done to a nearby lake, but based only on the guy’s attorney saying they’d figure something out, Supervisor Dennis Rooker voted for it anyway, saying that he “take[s] him to be a man of his word.” Supervisor Lindsay Dorrier voted for it, too, despite telling Charlottesville Tomorrow earlier this week that it lacked the infrastructure necessary to make it good for the county.

Our taxes going up to pay for rich folks to move here from New Jersey in 3…2…1…

44 thoughts on “Hollymead, Biscuit Run Approved”

  1. I’m from NJ, but I’m a) not rich (bummer), and b) not moving to Charlottesville if that’s where other New Jerseyans are going. The idea is to get AWAY from these people.

    Although, with a BoS like that, I guess I’d feel right at home.

  2. I was sure they’d approve both developments, especially now because, you know, we have plenty of water and stuff.

  3. Wow, what a stunning turn of events! Nobody could have seen this coming!

    Okay, I’ll cut the sarcasm short this morning. Still, it’s not like people living in and around Charlottesville haven’t seen the writing on the wall for some time now. If the people of C’ville don’t want development, then start voting for anti-development representatives.

    I’m not talking about people who say things like, “We need to make sure that any proposed development will be for the betterment of the community.” That’s just political talk for, “I’m trying to get into office so that I can vote for everything I fancy.”

    No, there needs to be more people who say things like, “We cannot vote for any more development until there is concrete proof that a) our infrastructure can support it and b) our taxpayers will not have to take on its burden.” People who say things like that can be held accountable (see: next election) and know it.

    Well, unless your name is George Bush and you’re talking about no new taxes.

    Don’t like them? Don’t vote for them.

  4. I’ve only been here for a little over 2 years, so I know have the memory that you all do for these issues. When I got here, it struck me as odd that even old neighborhoods in this town are “developments”. Where I’m from, developments were thwarted for years and only came onto the scene about 10 years ago (even now, there are none in my fairly large hometown and a few in one neighboring town). Here, it seems like housing developments have been the norm for far longer.

    From my point of view, these new projects were destined to happen partly because the door’s been wide open for developments to go up for quite some time.

  5. If you live in the City or you’re a growth area resident take a look at the front page of The Daily Progress and the bold print says it all “WATER PLAN HURDLE MONEY”. Indeed while we watch our lawns go brown in the current drought the board approves over 4,000 new units and did it knowing fully well no one knows where the money is going to come from to solve the water problem. Then again, maybe they know the money is going to come from city and growth area residents and don’t give a damn.

    This years election comes down to fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.
    It’s time for change!

  6. Dredge the reservoirs or expand the resrevoirs or build a new reservoir.

    Are you going to pay for that? Is Hunter Craig or Wendell Wood going to pay for it?

    With all due respect, if we’re going to have this kind of development, then we must require that infrastructure needs be met first and be paid for by the would-be developers. If they can’t afford that, then maybe it shouldn’t be built…

  7. Why don’t we have an actual representative local government? I don’t think I have ever talked to a single County resident of either party who is in favor of this crap.

    Vote all of these idiots out of office.

  8. I am just curious what property taxes would be like if the county really restricted growth more than it does now. Wouldn’t the assessment increase at a an even higher rate as demand vastly outpaces supply? Wouldn’t higher assessments mean higher property tax bills?

    I also have to wonder if the old saying “if you build it they will come” holds true. Perhaps regardless of whether we build it in mass or not they we will come. It may be that they will come and instead of residing in neighborhoods in the growth area they instead start dotting our country side with several “McMansions.”

    When it comes to this issue I’m not on either side anymore. I think the whole thing is a lot more complex than either side is willing to admit.

  9. when it comes to water maybe it’s time for city and county growth area residents to come together and tell the RWSA enough is enough and design a system to provide water for development approved and NO more until we get an accounting of what their 50 year plan is going to cost and whose going to pay for it and how much.

  10. I am just curious what property taxes would be like if the county really restricted growth more than it does now. Wouldn’t the assessment increase at a an even higher rate as demand vastly outpaces supply? Wouldn’t higher assessments mean higher property tax bills?

    Yes, but the county could lower its tax rate proportionately to the higher assessments so the revenue stayed the same or had moderate growth – IF the voters put enough pressure on them to do it.

    Unfortunately, governments generally find a way to spend more money than they take in, no matter how much that is. As a rule they have the fiscal responsibility of a town drunk.

    As for the tax burden from Biscuit Run, what about the increase in tax revenue flowing in? That looks to be eight figures a year (depending on what sort of businesses go in and how they’re taxed), which will eventually more than offset the outlay. Not to mention the fees the county gets when they’re built. I don’t think money is the main reason this is a bad idea. Water and traffic, on the other hand…

  11. The dredging will have to be done just to maintain current capacity, and then an anti-silt system may be feasible.

    CrozetResident, that is how growth control operates in many areas of California. You can’t get a building permit for new housing units if the water service is already over-used. Good idea, rally to “Never forget Hollymead 2!” It was approved during probably the worst ever drought in the history of the RWSA, a couple of years ago, back when the restaurants could not let you use their bathrooms or give you water, so you had to go home and use the same water there, and back at the restaurant, pay Pepsi for a soft drink that they made from RWSA water! (The restaurants had no choice in this.) Meanwhile the media were obsessed with a carwash.

    Last week there was some misinformation in the Hook saying a trailer park was the largest water user in Albermarle County.
    I don’t believe it. During the real drought it was 1. UVa., 2. Pepsi. (Although the new hospital is in the city, the rest of UVa is in the county.) Maybe the trailer park is the biggest residential user.

    News flash:
    Hollymead expansion approved
    By Jeremy Borden / …dailyprogress.com | 978-7263
    September 13, 2007

    History repeated itself Wednesday as the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors on unanimously approved a major development during a severe drought with no plans for the expansion of water supplies for thirsty C-villains.

    OK, I wrote that, but the headline is real.

    (not found in article)

  12. Hollymead 2? Whatever, the place where Target, etc., are. The one that didn’t pay for its sinkhole pipe, I’d wager, and won’t let the parallel road recommended by Places29 through. Talk about a free ride.

    [Waldo, the bug where you can’t followup a post with a post is still there.]

  13. Bruce, let me be the first to say studies show developments don’t pay for themselves in places like Albemarle County because they attract children who go to the good public schools, and that is by far the largest part of the county budget. I can’t vouch the studies are accurate, but there’s always mentioned in debates about growth.

    Nelson County, on the other hand, cleaned up when the area around Wintergreen developed with spiffy second homes and retirement relocations. All cash, no kids. Attracting retirees is a bonanza for local “economic development” (=taxes) types. Helps to have golf courses, and maybe a college town the oldsters remember fondly. It’s worked all over the USA.

    You want to see what a gov’t body can do with unlimited taxes, look at the CHO airport. I’m not anti-tax, but I can’t help making fun of that place. They have almost unlimited funding due to passenger taxes and they keep coming up with more and more ridiculous ways to spend it. First the crazy entrance roads, the constant mowing, the gazebo. Then they lowered the state road behind the airport by like five feet! Now they’re building a second traffic circle, behind the airport. More cowbell? More gazebos!

    (Same thing happened at the Delaware Memorial Bridge on I-95. Constant patrols, grooming, painting. It has a police force the size of a large town, all due to toll revenue.)

    Maybe that airport money could go towards rail……

  14. UVA08,

    You’re absolutely right that these are indeed very complex issues and there aren’t always simple answers. I can’t blame you for having little confidence in people representing either side of the issue.

    As to your question,

    I am just curious what property taxes would be like if the county really restricted growth more than it does now. Wouldn’t the assessment increase at a an even higher rate as demand vastly outpaces supply? Wouldn’t higher assessments mean higher property tax bills?

    I’ve argued for quite some time that normal supply and demand economics don’t apply here. Here’s why:

    The supply may be local but the demand is National. Proof of this is that most of the residents of these new developments are not from the area. That means that we can’t just reduce the demand by building more houses.
    “Build it and they will come”: It has been shown that if you go out of your way to accomodate developers, that they’ll then target your community for more development. Likewise, people choose to move to the communities with the new big supply of homes and stores.

    In short, the fatal mistake of the BOS was assuming that normal supply and demand applied, and thus they actually may have created conditions that increased demand rather than reduced it. You’re absolutely right though that simply stopping all development isn’t the answer either. I personally feel that it comes down to making wise zoning decisions and sticking by them. Creating growth aras wouldn’t have been such a terrible idea if it come under the condition that we’d keep the rural are rural and create more urban/suburban greenspace. Likewise, that increase development should have came with a provision that all infrastructure needs to happen first. That’s essentially how I feel the BOS failed us.

  15. At his candidate interview with Charlottesville Tomorrow on August 31st, when asked “Do you believe Biscuit Run will be quality growth for our community?”, Lindsay Dorrier responded “I don’t believe the Biscuit Run project at the present time has infrastructure to support quality growth.” He went on to say, “It has the potential to be quality growth, but it is not quality growth at the present time.”

    So why did he make the motion to approve it less than two weeks later?
    Why did he vote for it if it’s not “quality growth?”


    13:55 — Do you believe Biscuit Run will be quality growth for our community?

  16. Harry Landers, Who are you going to vote for in Rivanna since Marcia Joseph voted for Biscuit Run when it was before the planning commission?
    And will you say the same thing in 2 years about Slutski, Thomas, and Rooker?

    The county just made adjustments to the water plan to take it forward 50 years. I’m not saying it will really be 50 years but there is progress none the less. We avoided being forced to hook into a federal program that would have piped water in from the James. I think the water crisis is really about a few areas that will be help when the system is interlinked. They drought is called county wide but if I save water (and I do) it won’t help people in other areas of the county. It is a separate issue but many people have their own wells and the RWSA drought doesn’t really affect them.

    The real problem preventing new water supply is with government approval for water systems. They abandoned Buck Mountain because they concluded they could never get federal government approval. Wetlands, mollusk, and others forces have significantly curtailed the issuing of new water permits.

    I also think you got to give the RWSA credit for doing sewage analysis that showed there was a problem BEFORE Albemarle Place is built. That wasn’t done in the past and they are facing real data now.

    Lastly I am always be amazed that posters here blame the supervisors for all our growth ills and never talk about the real engine of growth: UVA. If you don’t talk about limiting the University’s growth then you ignore the 800 pound cavailer in the county. Last time I read they are just going to get bigger and sell all that Kluge Land that somebody going to do some building on.

  17. Harry Landers, Who are you going to vote for in Rivanna since Marcia Joseph voted for Biscuit Run when it was before the planning commission?

    I don’t live in Rivanna, so I won’t face that decision. I live in the Whitehall District and will vote for Ann Malleck. That said, I think voting against all incumbents, in this election, would send a powerful message.

    And will you say the same thing in 2 years about Slutski, Thomas, and Rooker?

    That would probably depend upon whether I perceive that the “powerful message” of 2007 has been delivered and whether that results in any change in the voting behavior of incumbents.

  18. Perlogik,


    Lastly I am always be amazed that posters here blame the supervisors for all our growth ills and never talk about the real engine of growth: UVA. If you don’t talk about limiting the University’s growth then you ignore the 800 pound cavailer in the county. Last time I read they are just going to get bigger and sell all that Kluge Land that somebody going to do some building on.

    For once, we agree. Unfortunately, if we don’t have what it takes to stand up to the developers, then I can’t imagine anyone in the Planning Commission or BOS confronting the largest employer in the county. The irony is that UVa has a great school where they teach things like sustainable archetecture and urban planning… It’s too bad that they don’t have their grad students do their designs, because they’d probably turn out better!

    I could talk much further on this topic… Alas, I think the real reason most of us don’t bring it up is merely because we feel rather helpless to change that particular situation so we focus instead on issues like zoning ordinances.

  19. I don’t live in Rivanna, so I won’t face that decision. So your recommendation only goes for White Hall? I think your avoiding the logic that would lead you not to vote for anyone who voted for Biscuit Run. This would mean that in Rivanna you would have no one to vote for. Or have I overstated your case?

    I do like the case for redemption for Thomas, Rooker, and Slutsky. What if the incumbents all win?

  20. Perlogik,

    Nope, my recommendation to vote against all incumbents applies across the board. You specifically asked about who I was going to vote for in Rivanna, so I was responding directly to that question.

    I have no problem with suggesting that those who share my frustration with this Board of Supervisors vote against all incumbents. In the case of Rivanna, you bet, I encourage folks to vote for Marcia Joseph. This is about a big message of “cleaning house”.

    If all the incumbents win, I suppose that means that most voters are perfectly happy with the way things are going and I’m just a dope without a clue.

  21. http://cvilletomorrow.typepad.com/

    At minute 42:29, David Wyant in the White Hall forum with Ann Mallek, said, “We (the BOS) have been working extremely hard to develop partnerships with the developers.”

    And we wonder why we find ourselves in development/drought pergatory, drifting in a wasteland of diesel fuel,mud, retention ponds, and blacktop.

  22. “And we wonder why we find ourselves in development/drought pergatory, drifting in a wasteland of diesel fuel,mud, retention ponds, and blacktop.”

    Pretty vivid language, but don’t you think it’s a little bit over-the-top?

  23. but don’t you think it’s a little bit over-the-top?

    Of course it’s over the top. Would you prefer that I bust a rhyme instead?

  24. Falstaff spied a polymath
    And slowly did approach him.
    He asked, how now oh polymath
    Can we build without encroaching

    On mussels and clams and beaver dams
    And rivers slowly dying?
    The polymath said the only thing’s dead
    Is the sinkhole on twenty nine.

  25. i will take a peanut

    but seriously, what do we do? Even if we vote those turkeys, there will still be growth? Plus wouldn’t this development devalue of homes in this market area?

  26. Yes there will still be growth. The current growth rate is below 2%. What kind is really the question. Albemarle supervisors can not stop growth.

    If the new development is considered a good one it will INCREASE the value of the homes nearby. This happened at Glenmore for example

  27. Once the City and county had a total population of 55,000. There was a drought and water restrictions were put in place. The cost of all of the development since then for the additional 70,000 was shared by the new residents as well as the old, including improvements to the water supply and the construction of new schools. It is clear that UVA is not the cause of the entire increase. The idea of the developer covering the total cost of the impact of new development is a new one and can not be required by present state law. Denying by-right construction due to the lack of infrastructure is illegal according to recent court rulings. Maybe people should lobby the BOS to deny increasing the current allowable density in planned developments. So many voices wanting different degrees of growth is probably clouding the issue as to what are doable limitations that the result is anything goes. The developers are certainly organized and their arguments are cogent and concise. The citizens are all over the place.

  28. On October 22, 2002 the Daily Progress discussed Steve Blaine, attorney for Biscuit Run: “And Blaine, a Charlottesville attorney, pointed out that since local government cannot stop new construction, the community should avoid politicizing the water-supply conversation and get moving on expanding storage capacity.” In other words, get ready to pony up $127M for Ragged Mountain because if we don’t they will build until we run out of water. Presumably the consortium of developers will then move locust-like to the next area of opportunity. That kind of in-your-face arrogance can only be dealt with by a new and re-staffed Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority Board and a new slate of supervisors. Perhaps this consortium should consider paying for the dam improvements with their own cash. They can be repaid out of water revenues on water sold in excess of our current consumption.

  29. In other words, get ready to pony up $127M for Ragged Mountain
    Ragged Mountain won’t get built because of permitting. But it was never going to cost that much by itself. That is the price for upgrades to the system as a whole that were identified years ago.
    This is a number that repeated but unsupported by examination of the facts

    The new straff of the RWSA were the ones that help come up with the 50 year plan and identifed the shortfall of sewage capacity at Albemarle Place. They took real public input that help change the plan to it’s current state. Why getting rid of them would help escapes me.

  30. A few things…

    Falstaff, I agree that “What kind [of growth] is really the question.” but I’d disagree that Glenmore is quality growth. It has some positive aspects (there was still a little greenspace back when I had a friend that lived there) but overall the gated community approach is the antithesis of what I’d consider idea.

    Cville Eye, you’re right about the Dillon rule. Albemarle County can’t directly stop or slow growth. That said, the current BOS have gone out of their way to increase growth with very little attention given to the quality of it. We can impose standards on the kind of growth that occur, and we can certainly stop granting the ability of developer to go over what they can do by right, unless they can demonstrate that the infrastructure is there to support it. We could have passed the Rural Protection Ordinance… We could even choose to downzone areas in the county, so that they can’t be subdivided as much. In short, the Dillon rule does indeed hinder our ability to manage growth, but the county is not without tools to address these issues.

    For that matter, Governor Kane has mentioned a willingness to work with local governments to give them more tools to address the issue of sprawl. I think that if Albemarle county was really serious about addressing these issues then it could do more to advocate for recieving more control or additional tools to address growth from the state.

  31. On the water issue that perlogik brought up, I talked to some folks at RWSA and they mentioned that the Buck Mountian resevoir could be built anytime they wanted. That is, they could pretty easily get around the legal/gov issues involved. But they said they’d prefer not to and instead would rather see us get our extra water from the James River. Yuk.

    Of course the big question is who pays for it. I assume given the track records of BoS, it will be everyone through property taxes.

    Oh, and Dude, what about us rich folks from California moving in? I’m feeling slighted by all this talk about NJ. Why are they so special? :-)

  32. Does anyone know if Lonnie’s suggestions for BoS policies on sensible razoring are being discussed WITH the candidates at Charlottesville Tomorrow or the various public forums? Each of the city candidate’s audio interviews (there are five) are about an hour long and I’m too lazy to take the time to listen to the county’s. Lonnie’s ideas are too clearly stated not to be included.
    Looking at what has happened in development in the past forty years in the county and ignoring what staff and supervisors proclaim, I cannot help but notice that the land that was owned by those who frequented Farmington Country Club every week seem to get developed and at premium prices. Those tracks on the south side have had a more difficult time. I have yet to hear the din of public outcry over developments along 29 north as I have on 5th Street Extended. If you consider the development beyond Kmart (Northfields, Carrsbrook, Woodbrook, Hollymead, and the Forest Lakes) it appears to be larger than Biscuit Run with a great impact upon the County. By developing that area piecemeal, we have an example of bad development. With scant interior connections, all of the local traffic is forced onto 29 north highway.. This spine connector is bad design causing the headache of retrofitting years after the fact. Yet this type of development has never been criticized. Is there some special relationship between members of the BoS, county staff and particular developers? Is it that they like hobnobbing with the Farmington set? Something is screwy but not apparent.
    Whatever is going on, clear proposals such as Lonnie’s need to be advanced to the table and adhered to.

  33. Cville Eye,

    Thanks for your kind words. I imagine that Brian Wheeler has heard my opinion on these issues before, and I do think that some of these topics were brought up, although not always directly.

    To my knowledge, I don’t think thought that my main question for the BOS candidates that I submitted was ever asked. That’s too bad, because I think ultimately, if we think in terms of biodiversity then we’ll always do the right thing as far as development is concerned.


  34. Re: drinking James River water (“Yuk!”). More than Yuk, it takes a tremendous amount energy to pump water uphill 20 miles. The water may be green, but the concept is not.

  35. $142,000,000 that’s 142 MILLION DOLLARS for the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority 50 year plan and not a dollar to remove the ever growing pile of silt that’s piling up in the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. Does anyone have a link to the graph showing the sedimentation rate at the South Fork it’s amazing . In 1966 they started at 1,700 million gallons and they’re down near 1,000 million now and dropping fast by the end of the 50 yrs they’ll have maybe 400 million if they’re lucky of silty dirty water to pump 10 miles to the Ragged Mt Reservoir—
    Whose idea was this to build this 10 mile pipe with diry water and destroy a beautiful Natural Area. I can’t find it in the consultants report which by the way had over 30 other ideas besides the James River connection, one of which was to restore capacity at the South Fork.

  36. An interesting article came out from the Progress today that I think is quite relevant to this discussion. Apparently the 29 North strip in Albemarle (where all the existing and new development is) accounts for 45% of the county’s tax revenue. It also provides area residents with 20,000 jobs and over 800 million in salaries. I guess the big question, in terms of this discussion, is how much of the tax revenue does that area consume in terms of roads and other infrastructure.


  37. UVA08,

    I’ve talked with some people in local government about the mess that is 29 north, and you may or may not be surprised to know that it is very intentional.

    First of all, businesses result in a net gain in revenue, versus new homes which ultimately cost more than they pay in taxes. Secondly, since the county recognizes the need for businesses, and can’t legally filter which ones we get, they chose to contain them all in one spot so they wouldn’t cover the countryside.

    To some degree, they’ve tried to do the same with housing, to keep subdivisions out of the rural area. The big difference is that while they can keep a person from putting a Walmart in an area not zoned for it, they can’t stop the developments from building in rural areas under the current ordinances. I think they thought that by putting all these homes and businesses on 29 together that people would start both living and working in the same area; however no one in Forest Lakes is going to realistically work at Wal-Mart or Target.

    Okay, so why put this in an area with only one major road? Basically they wanted getting around in that area to be painful. It was a way of keeping it from getting out of control. After all, once the new bypass, Eastern Connector, or Meadowcreek “Parkway” is built the fear is that that whole area will metastasize. After all, there are indeed bulldozers practically standing ready just waiting for the Meadowcreak “Parkway” to be built. Thus, why it has taken so long to build any of these roads.

    In short, it was lazy and cowardly planning. They opted to build a refugee camp instead of reforming the immigration policy. What really needed to happen was to revolutionize the entire way we view developments, neighborhoods and our infrastructure. To some degree, they’re doing that work now with the neighborhood model, but it’s never been implemented fully and a partial neighborhood model is actually probably worse than doing nothing at all. (See the Hollymeade “Town Center” as a case in point.) I hope Biscuit Run won’t be just another example of that too… Besides, the neighborhood model only brings us up to maybe the 1970’s in terms of our knowledge of how communities can be designed sustainably.

    All this is why I think all the current BOS incumbants need to go. We need some fresh thinking, and people willing to make Charlottesville a leader in how we plan our communities. We also need leadership from the Developers. They need to understand that it is in their best financial interest to do things differently. The county shouldn’t have to drag them kicking and screaming in order to make something a little better than “little boxes” (or big boxes as the case may be…) Some of them are finally seeing the light, and gradually changing but not enough of them yet to stop the cancer destroying all the things that make this such a great place to live. Pardon the extended metaphor, but someone has got to finally have the guts to pick up the scalpel…

  38. Peter Kleeman said in his Charlottesville Tomorrow interview that he was amazed when gathering signatures for his council run that so many people on the downtown mall were not registered to vote in the city. I think one of the major problems with current planning models for 29 north is the county is planning for “local” residents and traffic. They will be surprised to find out that the majority of people on that road are not from Charlbemarle. They come here from the surrounding counties of Prince Edward, Amherst, Buckingham, Nelson, Augusta, Rockbridge, southern Orange, Madison, Greene, western Louisa, Goochland, and Fluvanna. Their coming here to conduct their business, receive health care and do some regional shopping is what makes that area sustainable. They will not be moving to the most expensive place to live in central Virginia in order to live, shop and walk along 29 north. Besides, a few thousand people living amidst the retail businesses will only complement its sustainability, not determine it. Places 29 will not be a solution to the perceived problems. The pictures do look nice and pleasant though, and I wouldn’t mind living there if there aren’t any loud night clubs nearby like in the downtown mall area.
    I suspect that the business owners will continue resisting efforts to reduce traffic in that corridor for fear that it will also reduce business revenue. Many fault the 250 Bypass in accelerating the demise of downtown Charlottesville as a thriving retail district by diverting traffic to 29 rather than straight down Main Street. Some businesses recently in Madison said they experienced a marked decline in revenue when a bypass was built. Many people here will also oppose a series of ramps being built because it reminds them of Arlington. I don’t think these plans are nearly ready yet. If the county approves them, they will find themselves inundated with a lot of special requests for variances as the city has after it revamped its zoning city-wide in 2003. It took a long time to bring 29 to this point and it’s going to take a long time to improve it.

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