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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Smoke and Mirrors

Another milestone: Since its inception my blog has had over 400,000 reads. I thank all who have taken time to read my writings. I hope you have enjoyed them and will continue to follow my blog. I’m not finished…

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

I simply can’t resist. Someone who attended the Stonehaven ice cream social shared with me. This person reported very few residents in attendance. This is the same report I received after the Stonehaven proponents held their pizza party event. There appear to be fewer suckers in the Yucca district than they expected. I suspect they have been highly disappointed with the turnout at their PR events. Did they really believe that they could buy the goodwill and support of Yucca residents with an ice cream cone of a slice of pizza?

I received the handouts that were provided at the ice cream event. What a hoot! The first page of the handout is a map showing where the Stonehaven site is located. The second handout is a depiction of their Open Space Master Plan. I wonder if they shared the fact that they purposefully planted their 9 acres of park abutting the city’s 5 acre, taxpayer funded park. They wouldn’t be planning on Stonehaven’s residents using the city park so that they wouldn’t be compelled to provide a larger one within their subdivision, would they? Na-h-h-h. Just some smoke and mirrors…

Two of the handouts show wonderfully idyllic photos of the largest homes they could find…but there is no representation by them that the houses depicted in the photos are actually sitting on 4,000 square foot lots. I wonder if they mentioned that there will be 12 feet between two homes? Can you imagine someone actually investing in a 2,500 to 3,500 square foot home on a 4,000 square foot lot? One handout depicts a lot size of 45’X 110’. That actually equals 4,950 square feet. I guess even they didn’t have the nerve to produce a photo of a 2,500 square foot house on a true 4,000 square foot lot. Just some more smoke and mirrors…

The last handout is a conceptual of grocery store/commercial pad located at the northeast corner of 91st Avenue and Camelback Road. Of course it includes the inevitable gas station. On June 18th  I and the rest of the city council received an email in opposition to Stonehaven from a Yucca resident who lives close to the proposed Stonehaven. He sums up the grocery store situation far better than I could and so I will quote from his email, The developer and its PR team have repeatedly touted the perceived excitement surrounding the new grocery store to be developed on the commercial parcel.  As yet, we have not received any information as to the specific grocer or the timing. 

“I am a retired senior level commercial asset manager with over 30 years of experience in the management, acquisition, development, and redevelopment of retail centers, office buildings (including the Biltmore Financial Center), and office/warehouse industrial properties in multiple markets across the country including in excess of 50 retail centers here in the valley over the past 20 years. 

“It is no secret that grocery-anchored and other big box-anchored retail centers are a dying breed.  This trade area already has a Fry’s at 83rd and Indian School, a Safeway at 83rd and Camelback, a Super Walmart at 91st and Camelback, a Target at 91st and Northern, and a Neighborhood Walmart at 75th and Glendale.  That leaves Albertson’s and Basha’s or one of its affiliates as the remaining major players.  Albertsons and Safeway are under the same ownership.  Basha’s has not been in expansion mode for quite some time. 

“If they are thinking about one of the smaller specialty markets like Sprouts or Trader Joe’s that could be a nice addition to the area but they would be more likely to remodel and occupy the Fresh and Easy building at 83rd and Camelback, which has been sitting empty for about the last 10 years.  And what grocery chain would want to open a new store and try to compete right on top of the Super Walmart?

“ If they (Stonehaven applicants) had a signed lease or even a signed letter of intent they would be sitting on the fence crowing about it.  I have serious doubts that there will ever be a grocery store built on this site.  They’ll carve out a pad, put out a ‘coming soon’ sign, and then in about five years come back with a plan to carve it up into a multi-tenant building to house another Vape shop or maybe a medical marijuana dispensary and other unsavory uses.” More smoke and mirrors…

What are the proponents avoiding at all costs? Depicting the reality associated with 4,000 and 4,500 square foot lots.  They have avoided telling you that there will be more 4,000/4,500 square foot lots in Stonehaven than in the entire Barrel district.

The Barrel district has a total of 117 acres containing 690 homes on 4,000 square foot lots but they are scattered over 5 separate sites throughout the district. They are not concentrated on one site. The largest site is Country Hollow built in 1993 (24 years ago). It is a 38 acre site with 234 lots that are R 1-4. Other R 1-4 subdivisions in the Barrel district are: Village Rose built in 2002 (15 years ago) with 62 homes on 10 acres; Tarrington Place built in 2003 (14 years ago) with 192 homes on 28 acres; Beacon Heights built in 2004 (13 years ago) with 15 homes on 3 acres; and Alice Park approved in 2015 with 187 homes on 37 acres.

Stonehaven, in one fell swoop, proposes 616 homes on 4,000 and 4,500 square foot lots on 131 acres. Can you imagine the impact of the intense concentration of this small lot size on more acreage in one spot than on any other R 1-4 site in Glendale? That would be like putting all the R 1-4 lots in the Barrel district in one place. Can you say increased traffic, overcrowded schools and diminished property values?

One would think the Glendale Star, the Glendale Chamber of Commerce and Glendale’s Mayor Jerry Weiers would be embarrassed to have endorsed such a grotesque and intense use of     R 1-4 on one site anywhere in our community. But the smoke and mirrors of PR touting a major investment in Glendale along with the promise of increased annual taxes into the city’s coffers and the promise of a completed Bethany Home Road seems to have blinded them to the realities of this project. Did they not realize that the original Stonehaven plan promised the same? Of course not…for you see, it’s all smoke and mirrors.

In my next blog it’s all about R 1-4 zoning…

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Note: As a councilmember representing the Yucca district and in opposition to the proposed Stonehaven changes, I may not lobby fellow councilmembers about this project. The Arizona Open Meeting Law prohibits “daisy chaining” by councilmembers. That means I cannot go to the mayor and each councilmember to try to convince them to oppose the project. I am, in essence, handicapped by state law. The proponents of the Stonehaven changes do not have such a constraint and are busy lobbying every councilmember to gain their support. Who will the councilmembers represent? Their citizens or special interests? We will find out on June 27th when this proposal is scheduled to go before the city council for a vote of denial or approval.

On Wednesday evening, I received the usual email blast entitled “Mayor’s Business of the Week.” In his email the lead headline is…Stonehaven is proof that Glendale has turned a corner.  Here is his statement:

“Stonehaven

 Office of the Mayor Jerry P. Weiers

Mayoral Statement Date: 6/7/2017 Issue/Event: StoneHaven

Description: Mayor Weiers is providing a statement of support for the StoneHaven Master Planned Community being proposed by John F. Long Properties and Pulte Homes near 91st & Camelback Rd.

Statement:

StoneHaven is Proof That Glendale Has Turned a Corner

In the coming weeks the Glendale City Council will vote on the most impactful housing development project our city has seen in years.

This is cause for celebration in Glendale, as two successful Arizona companies, Pulte Homes and John F. Long Properties, propose to invest $450 million on a nearly 400-acre residential and retail project near 91st Avenue and Camelback Road. The proposal has undergone careful study, and this one has all the signs of a winner.

StoneHaven will bring 1,365 high-quality, single-family homes and add neighborhood retail businesses to the southern part of our community generating $49 million in new local city revenues, according to a city-commissioned study. This will help improve our security and quality of life, as we provide funds for police, fire protection, roads and parks. An influx of new residents also means new customers for businesses at Westgate and other parts of the city.

Glendale has turned a corner.

Before I took office we were going through very tough times. It wasn’t too long ago that businesses were struggling, and the municipal budget was in the red. Together, we have overcome those obstacles, and Glendale is once again financially stable.

The city’s sound financial footing has spurred new economic development and growth.

But our work isn’t done.

That’s why approval of this project is so important. It is an infusion of confidence and a boost towards full economic recovery.

As we move forward, we must come to grips with another challenge: the shortage of new housing in Glendale. We are a landlocked city. Undeveloped land is in short supply. That’s why it is imperative that we consider every opportunity for a thoughtful development of vacant land whenever one comes along. StoneHaven is a carefully-crafted traditional master-planned community that integrates residential, commercial and recreational facilities.

I live not too far from the proposed StoneHaven site.

As a neighbor, I welcome the project. One of the many aspects of this project that I’m very excited about is the proposed construction of Bethany Home Road between 83rd Avenue and 91st Avenue, which is long overdue.

Many of my neighbors shop in Phoenix because of the close proximity to grocery stores and retail business, but with the StoneHaven development our tax dollars will stay here and help Glendale.

I am also gratified by the support from the Glendale Star, Glendale Chamber of Commerce and local school districts.

If I felt this project were bad for Glendale, I would be the first to oppose it. But every study, every review and every staff report tells me that’s not the case. City staff recommends approval.

As Mayor, I must look at the overall, long-term benefits of any project for the good of the city as a whole. StoneHaven is a project that has enormous long-term benefits to Glendale, and is an opportunity that does not come along very often. We must keep our positive momentum moving forward for the city.

We have a leadership team and a city staff that rolled up its collective sleeves and got our fiscal house in order. Our citizens kept the faith, and we are now headed in the right direction.

We should consider ourselves fortunate that we also have business leaders who stuck it out during hard times and are now prepared to invest in our future. We need to respond with the enthusiasm that such an offer deserves.

By embracing projects like StoneHaven, we can make Glendale the very best it can be.”

–Jerry P. Weiers

Media Contact: Kari Sliva, Chief of Staff Office of Glendale Mayor Jerry P. Weiers Office (623) 930-2260 | Direct (623) 930-2292 | Cell (602) 574-2481 | Fax (623) 937-2764 City Hall | 5850 W. Glendale Ave. | Glendale, AZ 85301 | ksliva@glendaleaz.com

The Mayor’s statement sounds as if it was written for him by the PR firm of RoseMosserAllyn, hired by the John F. Long Trust and Pulte Homes. For all we know, that may be the case. Some of the more familiar catch phrases used in the Stonehaven PR material are  

  • Pulte Homes and John F. Long Properties, propose to invest $450 million on a nearly 400-acre residential and retail project near 91st Avenue and Camelback Road.”
  • “StoneHaven will bring 1,365 high-quality, single-family homes and add neighborhood retail businesses to the southern part of our community generating $49 million in new local city revenues, according to a city-commissioned study.” (Oops Mayor. The study to which you refer was commissioned by the John F. Long Trust).
  • “…the shortage of new housing in Glendale. We are a landlocked city. Undeveloped land is in short supply. That’s why it is imperative that we consider every opportunity for a thoughtful development of vacant land whenever one comes along. StoneHaven is a carefully-crafted traditional master-planned community that integrates residential, commercial and recreational facilities.”
  • “We must keep our positive momentum moving forward for the city.” (This phrase sounds oddly familiar. Could it be the PR slogan the John F. Long Trust and Pulte Homes is using? You bet it is).

Am I disappointed in his statement of support for the proposed changes to the originally approved Stonehaven plan? You bet I am. Am I angry that his statement of support was made 3 weeks before this item is scheduled to come before the entire council? You bet I am.

In his statement he says, “By embracing projects like StoneHaven, we can make Glendale the very best it can be.” How he can believe that creating another Maryvale, with people living cheek to jowl in 4,000 and 4,500 square foot lots either behind or adjacent to the two proposed commercial parcels of a “restaurant row” and a grocery store make Glendale the very best it can be? How can he truly believe that the proposed changes to the original plan of 6,000, 7,000 and 8,000 square foot lots in favor of a project with over 66% of the lots now 5,500 square feet or less be an upgrade for Glendale?

Oh wait, he says, “We should consider ourselves fortunate that we also have business leaders who stuck it out during hard times and are now prepared to invest in our future. We need to respond with the enthusiasm that such an offer deserves.” Really? No one truly believes this. We’re supposed to be grateful that the John F. Long Trust and Pulte Homes have deigned to throw Glendale a bone? Don’t be fooled. It’s all about money. Neither of these entities is throwing all of this money to get a project they desperately want approved if they didn’t stand to make a bundle of cash. They are not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts for Glendale and they certainly don’t deserve anyone’s praise.

Could the fact that Mayor Weiers received a total of $1,000 as campaign contributions from Jacob Long and Jim Miller (the principals of the John F. Long Trust) on 5/19/2016 for his reelection campaign have had any bearing? That’s for you to decide.

However, he seems to have forgotten that he also received money from and had petition signatures collected in his reelection campaign by the very Yucca district residents he now chooses to ignore. He seems to have rejected the notion that he was elected to represent and serve the very residents that voted for him and instead has sided with special moneyed interests.

This is a Mayor who rarely takes a stand on any major Glendale issue but yet has seen fit to announce his support for these special interests on an issue that is major and controversial for Yucca district residents… the very district in which he resides.

This is a Mayor whose major take away in his latest State of the City speech was to call on all of us to make someone’s life better every day. Well, he certainly isn’t doing that for all of the residents adjacent to or near the proposed Stonehaven.

This is a Mayor who has never declared his vision for Glendale. Perhaps if voters knew that it would include not just acceptance of but advocacy for a proposed residential project that will destroy the quality of life, increase traffic and overcrowd local schools for his residents – they might not have voted for him. He won his reelection by a margin of 400+ votes. Would he have won if voters knew that he would support projects such as this? I doubt it.

Lastly, Mayor Weiers says, “One of the many aspects of this project that I’m very excited about is the proposed construction of Bethany Home Road between 83rd Avenue and 91st Avenue, which is long overdue.” That it’s long overdue is debatable and may or may not be true but he fails to disclose that the city will pay the John F. Long Trust $1.2 million for the north half right-of-way for Bethany Home Road. That act, in and of itself, is precedent setting for the city. The city has never had to pay a developer for right-of-way necessary for a residential development project. Where does that $1.2 million come from? It comes from Development Impact Fees (DIF) paid by the buyers of each house in the project and passed on to the city by the developer. Usually DIF pays for new or upgraded amenities such as parks and libraries as a result of the new residential development. Not this time. The majority of the DIF generated by this residential project will be used to pay for Bethany Home Road right-of-way. Once again, the residents of the Yucca district get screwed.

By the way, the Stonehaven proponent media juggernaut is inviting Yucca residents to an ice cream social. It appears that their mailing list is comprised mainly of the 1,000+ Yucca residents who signed petitions in opposition to the proposed changes in Stonehaven. Somehow or another, I don’t think Yucca residents will sell their souls or principles and suddenly embrace this proposed project for a lousy ice cream cone. Do you? It’s insulting. How dumb do they think we are? They are desperately trying to buy good will…first with a slice of pizza and now with an ice cream cone…really?

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

CHECK OUT THE VIDEO ON SAMMY CHAVIRA’S USE OF TAXPAYER MONEY TO THE LEFT OF THIS COLUMN

It has been 18 years and 146 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

At the city council voting meeting of April 26, 2016 there were two agenda items that should raise  eyebrows. One was the council approval of the Long Trust proposed residential project located between Bethany Home Road and Camelback Road, 83rd Avenue to 91st Avenue called “Stonehaven.” It comprises over 300+ acres and proposes over 1,100+ homes. By the way, it will look nothing like Rovey Farm Estates, another planned area development. Rovey Farm estates had approximately the same acreage but only 800+ homes ranging on lot sizes from 7,000 square feet on the west side of the project to one acre lots on the east side of the project.

Stonehaven will have 1,100+ homes on lots, 43% of which will be 5,500 square feet…very small lots with very small homes. For this reason alone, many concerned residents asked that Stonehaven be tabled with council direction to take another look at these very small lots. The 5,500 square foot lot size does not even meet the city’s minimum standard for detached homes which should be R 1-6 (6,000 square feet). All of the citizen’s concern fell on deaf ears and city council approved Stonehaven unanimously.

Of more concern and precedent setting was council’s approval of a $1.2 million dollar payment to the Long Trust for the right-of-way for the proposed city construction of the north side of Bethany Home Road between 83rd Avenue and 91st Avenue. When a developer builds a subdivision the developer is responsible for paying for and constructing the roads that will serve its planned community. If it’s a major arterial road, such as Bethany Home Road, then the developer will dedicate the necessary right-of-way for the entire road but pay for construction of only half of the road with the city being responsible for paying for construction of the other half of the road.

Not so in this case and that is what is precedent setting. A senior staffer, part of a “city team” that negotiated with the John F. Long trust, acknowledged that the city had asked Long for dedication of right-of-way for the north side of Bethany Home Road and that Long refused.  Having been refused its request, the city rolled over and negotiated a payment of $1.2 million dollars to Long for the right-of-way for the north side of Bethany Home Road. This is precedent setting. I know of no other instance where the city had to pay a developer for right-of-way for a major road that would serve the planned residential development.

Why didn’t the city team decide that if the trust was unwilling to make the necessary dedication for Bethany Home Road that perhaps the entire residential project should not be approved?  The city could have decided that if the trust was unwilling to make the necessary dedication precluding the full construction of Bethany Home Road that the proposed residents of the project would not have adequate ingress and egress from the project. Under that scenario, the Long Trust eager to sell the land to a developer, would have had to dedicate the right-of-way for the north side of Bethany Home Road, if it wanted to approval for Stonehaven.

There is more within the approved development agreement between the Long Trust and the City of Glendale, “The Parties acknowledge that the Bethany Home Road Extension will be completed and accepted on or before January 1, 2022.” That’s 6 years from now.

In Section 3.4 of the agreement, JFLT (John F. Long Trust) will have final plans and specifications for the Bethany Home Road Extension completed by the civil engineer and approved by the Parties prior to the City’s issuance of the 275th home building permit for the Residential Development Parcel (subject to Force Majeure Events and any mutually-agreed extensions).” It is safe to assume that it will be several years before the Long Trust even has to turn in a plan for the road to the city.

Under Section 4.2 it states, “JFLT will cause the general contractor to commence construction of the Bethany Home Road Extension prior to the City’s issuance of the 400th home building permit for the Residential Development Parcel and to achieve completion and acceptance within one (1) year thereafter (subject to Force Majeure Events and any mutually-agreed extensions), but in no event later than the Outside Completion Deadline (January 1, 2022).” How long will it be before the 400th (40%) home building permit is issued? Several years at least. In the meantime these new residents will have limited access to their newly created subdivision.

How does any of this agreement serve the best interests of Glendale’s taxpayers and the soon-to-be new residents?

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

photo 3Over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing the history and current condition of the city’s airport. The reason for this long overdue discussion is the resurrection of John F. Long’s Trust (read Jake Long and siblings) to once again bring forward an excavation and mining operation across Glen Harbor Blvd. and 450 feet away from the airport proper. To give you some perspective the length of a football field is 100 yards or 300 feet. The proposed mining operation would be only 1 ½ football fields away from the airport.

Why should you, as a Glendale resident or user of the city airport, care? A 20 or 30 year mining operation across the street from the airport will create irrevocable economic harm to the entire city. The city is working hard to maintain the airport as a viable entity and to reinvigorate it with new economic development.  An active, healthy city airport earns sales tax revenue for the city and contributes to a more robust city economy. This proposed project is in direct contradiction to the city’s goal.

We have seen that the airport has the potential to be economically successful during the city’s hosting of the Super Bowl. Dozens of corporate jets flew into the city airport because of its close proximity to Westgate, the Renaissance Hotel and the Stadium. When the national great recession hit, it stopped all economic growth at the airport in its tracks. The airport has yet to recover.

What is this project all about?  Several years ago, Jake Long (John F. Long’s son who took over the business after his Father passed away) met with former Mayor Scruggs and me to propose a Special Use District Overlay for their land. At that time we indicated that we could not and would not support such a proposal. The Long’s went away knowing that there was no support on the former council to move forward with their request.

photo 1The current proposal and its presentation are very slick. In it there are 4 phases of development including mining, commercial, office, light industrial and an option for live/work but none of the non-mining development will occur until after the mining operation has stripped the land of every nickel it can produce. That will be in 20 or 30 years. To make the mining more palatable the carrot is to develop the land for airport related commercial uses but not for many, many years. Their stated reason for requesting the mining is, “This SUD will provide a reliable mechanism to finance the installation of necessary infrastructure without coming to the City for support or overwhelming the site with private debt.” The city is not required nor bound to finance infrastructure for a private developer. That is the developer’s responsibility. So what they are really saying is that they don’t want to be responsible for their own loan to develop the infrastructure on their property.

Why is this not a good project? It is in direct opposition to economic development of the airport. Do you see mining at Deer Valley Airport or Goodyear Airport? No, of course not. It will create visual, auditory and environmental blight. Visually, across the street from the airport, 450 feet away will be a 10’ dirt berm (that’s about half the height of your home) and behind it will be a pit with the excavation equipment. Noise from the heavy equipment will be heard at the airport, all day long, 365 days a year and will create auditory blight. Environmentally, dirt and dust will drift, every day, from the mining operation on to the airport and will damage delicate aircraft engines and supporting aircraft equipment. That’s a given as winds in the Valley typically blow from west or southwest to the east. This mining operation is directly west of the airport.

What can you do to let the city know that you do not support this proposed project? You can do two things. Right now, as you are reading this fire off a letter to the city’s Planning Director, Jon Froke, asking him to recommend denial of this proposed project. Below is a sample letter that you can use. Please add your own reason for your opposition:

Your name

Your address

 

City of Glendale Planning

Attn: Jon Froke

5850 West Glendale Avenue, Suite 212

Glendale, Arizona 85301-2599

 

Dear Mr. Froke:

I oppose the use of land immediately adjacent to and across Glen Harbor Blvd. for the purpose of mining and excavation because (fill in your reason here).

I urge the your department to recommend denial to the Planning Commission and the City Council of the proposed Special Use District Overlay (SUD) requested. Thank you for your consideration of my request.

 

Sincerely,

Your name

 

If you are a Glendale resident living anywhere in the city or have used/currently using the airport you should plan to attend the Public Meeting hosted by the applicant. Mark your calendars now. I will be there to voice my opposition. The meeting will be:

 

Monday, August 5, 2013 at 6 p.m.

Airport Conference Room (second floor)

Glendale Municipal Airport

6801 North Glen Harbor Boulevard

Glendale, Arizona

 

photo 2Numbers count in this matter. What do we typically do when asked? We say someone else will do it or my voice doesn’t count. Not this time. Your voice added to dozens of others will be the catalyst to stop this proposed project. After all, the Glendale Airport needs your help.

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