CPA gives nod to controversial 7MB project

| 08/02/2018 | 67 Comments

(CNS): A controversial development on Seven Mile Beach, which opponents claim will promote ‘transient tourism’ in Cayman through websites like AirBnB, has received the green light from the Central Planning Authority. The Grove, which will provide a boost to the economy and range of welcome facilities for locals, combines one-bedroom apartments with shops, restaurants and green spaces. It received planning permission at a meeting of the CPA yesterday, despite significant objections from nearby residents.

Architect Rob Johnson from RJDA Johnson Design & Architecture said he was delighted by the approval. “This project will be good for everyone. It’s good for Cayman, good for the economy and it will be good for the objectors as the value of their properties will increase,” he added.

But the decision came in the face of vehement opposition from neighbouring residents concerned that the $20 million plus development will disrupt the quiet enjoyment of their private condo facilities as well as creating noise and traffic problems and an increase in crime. Further fears were expressed over the potential for development to also extend to bars or nightclubs, despite such establishments not being included in the developer’s initial plans.

The main area of concern stemmed from the fact that the development includes 58 one-bedroom apartments, which local residents say are ideally suited for — and promoted as being perfect for — daily rental on websites like AirBnB. Instead of bringing families to the development, opponents said it would favour daily rentals and potentially a lot of tourists crossing West Bay Road and using their pool facilities and what owners wrongly believe is their ‘private’ beach at The Great House, Avalon and Plantana.

Attorney Samuel Jackson, representing the neighbouring condo owners, called the development a “de facto hotel” with the absence of a house service area. “We are not saying this will turn into a Marriott or a branded hotel, but we know from the ads this will be listed on AirBnB and other websites. Short-term transient use is fundamentally different from residential use,” he told the Central Planning Authority board.

A large number of condo owners from these developments who had initially written letters of objection attended the planning meeting to express their opposition to the development, which in their opinion was not in keeping with the character of this area of West Bay Road.

Residents said side parking on West Bay Road was a real safety concern, with seven street-side parking bays included in the development. Opposing residents said these would obscure the view for drivers turning right out of The Grove in a part of West Bay Road without a turning lane, leading to potential traffic accidents.

“We are not opposed to the development but we want it to be in a character that is consistent with the neighbourhood,” one Avalon resident said before the committee. “We want stability, which would be provided by two- or three-bedroom units attracting families and not to allow daily rentals.”

The condos in Avalon and its neighbours are offered for daily rentals, however the zoning designation for these developments is hotel use.

Attorney Kyle Broadhurst, representing The Grove’s development company, said in some quite heated exchanges that planning approval was being sought appropriately and they were not seeking permission for a hotel or anything other than the proposed mix of residential use with retail and residential services.

Broadhurst argued that it was the right of future owners at The Grove to use their property in a lawful and regular manner, despite calls from the opposition attorney Jackson for the planning committee to insert conditions for owners to be restricted from rentals of less than one month, which Broadhurst said would be completely inappropriate and something which had never been done before.

Chairman of the Central Planning Authority Board A.L. Thompson noted that there was no evidence that the developers were promoting The Grove to future owners in a manner to encourage daily rentals.

The approval of planning for The Grove will bring a mix of retail establishments as well as new dining options to the north of West Bay Road and is said to be more than 50% sold at this stage.  The developers intend it to be a pleasant place for all residents to enjoy, with fountains, space for families to push a stroller around and more green space per square foot than Camana Bay.

The contractor for the project is believed to be Arch & Godfrey and work is expected to start imminently, with the first of five buildings up by Christmas.

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Category: Business, development, Local News, Tourism

Comments (67)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I congratulate Mr. JOHNSON and this development moving forward. Please continue to develop I am familiar with your projects and for goodness sake do not be one of the sellout wealthy caymanians that sell out their entire development to UNCLE D!
    Please be careful not to fall in that trap.
    Great concept with the Grove. Congrats
    Small developers need to be encouraged and this is the intent of my post.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Residents have concerns about side parking on West Bay Road. Does this mean the developer has permission to park on the street? I don’t understand this. The road is mine – and yours. If I build I have to have a specific number of parking spaces on the property. Am I wrong?




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  2. Anonymous says:

    Way too many retail units, not nearly enough parking. Shame on the CPA




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  3. Anonymous says:

    This concern raised by the Avalon owner is pure BS! Daily rentals? Is someone really flying to Cayman to stay for one night? The Avalon’s website quotes their rates “per night” and not “per week” or “per month”. So how is this any different.




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    • Anonymous says:

      How much are these units going for? Any idea?




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    • I regret to say that all of the overbuilding on the Seven Mile Beach Corridor is going to result in a serious drop in real estate prices, particularly condominium prices in 2 or 3 years time. While this will be good for future buyers it will not be good for current condo owners. Wonder if the Remax boys and their friends ever give any thought to this fact.

      We had also better also hope that the slow decline in the financial services sector doesn’t become a rapid decline in the next few years. Let’s hope no more banks pull out of Cayman.




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  4. Anonymous says:

    I am the poster from 12:52, did some research, and must offer my apology – I couldn’t have been more wrong about the “Use of Beach by the Public”. Usual private property landownership rules are suspended as they pertain to “beach area” in the Cayman Islands. The effect is that the public is allowed anywhere on beachfront in the Cayman Islands.

    From Appendix D, page 56: http://www.caymanislands.ky/Portals/0/Docs/FOI/LicensingInspection/TourismAccommodationManual2012-13-Sept.pdf

    4. The seaward boundary of a landowner‟s or tenant‟s property is, in tidal waters, the mean high water mark. Between the mean high water mark and the low water mark, known as “foreshore”, the land belongs to the Crown as does anything below the sea up to the limit of territorial waters.
    5. Where, however, a landowner‟s property consists of “beach” above the mean high water mark, then the usual rule, that a landowner can eject anyone he chooses from his land, is displaced.
    6. Members of the public have the right to use any part of Cayman‟s beaches for recreation even though the part of the beach being used is on private property, i.e. is above the mean high water mark. Such a public right is one of a group of rights which members of the public enjoy, even over private land, in the Cayman Islands. It is a right which the law presumes to have existed for many years and which members of the public have acquired under the Prescription Law.
    7. Whilst members of the public have no rights to use private property such as beach furniture which belongs to beachfront property owners, they may not be prevented from using the beach or passing to and fro along the beach even where the beach they use is on private land. Hotel managers should ensure that all staff working on the beach such a security personnel and food and beverage staff are aware of the law and that the public right to use any part of the beach is not restricted or limited in any way.




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    • Anonymous says:

      The mean high water mark, of which the public is entitled to access, is within 5 ft of the water’s edge or less. Not sure you could even fit a chair in that space. The rest is private property unless crown land.




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      • Anonymous says:

        You did read this I presume before making an inane comment? I would suspect you live on a beach for a few weeks of the year.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Hardly compelling legal analysis is it?




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    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you 12:52 for adjusting your position and admitting that you were incorrect. I for one completely accept your apology.




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  5. Anonymous says:

    amen…….keep selling your land Caymanians I’m getting rich and going home to retire. thank you thank you thank you




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  6. Anonymous says:

    I also would have preferred to keep my neighborhood small and quiet instead of having a big Frank Hall Development slapped down right next to me……….but guess what, by law they had the right to develop the property the same way I developed my property by putting my house on it.

    For some reason, the property owners along South Sound and 7Mile beach seem to think that they have some privileges in regards to their properties that other average home/property owners don’t have and that they can dictate to others what is appropriate in regards to property development.




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    • Anonymous says:

      This is called lack of proper planning by the Government. There needs to be zoning done and neighborhoods where the have rules restricting the area should be followed. Why would I build in let’s say Sunrise Landing and then two of my neighbors put up two shacks across the street from me and rent them out to transient workers..What does this do for land values when you have spent tons of money not only developing the infrastructure but I have abided by the rules and built my home to a certain standard..

      It would be the same thing if someone decided to build a residential home in the middle of George Town.. it ain’t going to happen..




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      • Anonymous says:

        They do have planning zones – low, medium and high density residential. However, there isn’t a huge amount of difference between them all. Furthermore, the planning authority rarely checks, and homeowners rarely apply for permission, when they decided to build a timber shack in their yard to house transient workers.




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      • Anonymous says:

        If you want a certain standard of houses in your neighborhood you need that to have a strata and even then some property owners will not follow the rules. We had thought of having a strata in our neighborhood to keep a certain type of development style in the area to avoid devaluation of the properties but then quickly realized there was really no way to enforce them except by taking someone to court.

        This is the issue all over the Island, not just along 7mile beach, and yes, unfortunately you can build a house somewhere and someone can put a “not so nice” house next to you or have the yard filled with junk cars or not mow their lawn and there is not much you will be able to do.




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  7. Anonymous says:

    Quit crying,put your condo for sale at a good price. I buy it and reap the benefits.




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  8. Anonymous says:

    This is so typically sad.

    So a $20m plus development wishes to cash in on a concept that was created to circumvent the limiting and outdated concept of $20m plus developments. Awesome.

    This is basically just another resort masquerading as otherwise to the uninformed final consumer.

    Unless the Ritz-Carlton and Kimpton are also allowed to list their accommodations on sites such as AirBnB, then I trust the authorities will do the right thing here.

    Again, I am speaking with a fair amount of knowledge regarding the other side of this coin. Thereon is a blooming and charming culture of a hands-on, personal visitor experience that cannot be matched.

    Failure of our authorities to appreciate this re-emerging arm of our tourism industry will once again serve as evidence that Cayman is a soul-less destination that just doesn’t get it.

    (Relevant repost below. If CNS allows);

    Caymanians, please take note.
    There is tremendous opportunity to partake in this pie of stay-over tourism.

    An extra $3,000.00 every month is easily attainable.

    Speaking from personal experience, it is not very difficult to upgrade or convert a family-owned property to the CIG / DOT required standard to list on AirBnb, TripAdvisor, Expedia, etc.
    Also, bookings are easily managed via smartphone apps so you can do everything from the comfort of your everyday life.

    Visitors are actively searching for these types of properties over traditional hotels and condos.
    It is a new day in global travel, and although the above is barely mentioned in our official circles, for obvious reasons, many of us are sitting on “silver mines” without realising.

    Key amenities to bear in mind;
    Air conditioning
    WiFi availability
    Parking space
    Functional kitchen (a simple supply of bread, eggs, juice, milk, coffee and tea goes a long way!)
    Television
    Sofa bed
    Hammocks
    Outside leisure areas, e.g. set of tables and chairs under the tree (tourists WANT to be in the warm sunshine, as opposed to us wanting to be in A/C comfort)
    Crib, children’s equipment
    Snorkeling equipment
    Paddleboard (big plus nowadays)

    Contact DOT and enquire about how to get your property registered.

    *Siblings, rather than squabbling over dearly departed mom’s home – combine resources, upgrade, and convert into a profitable and appreciating asset – use that income to fund (all) your kids’ university expenses.
    Grannie will smile down on you from heaven.

    DO NOT SELL YOUR CAYMAN PROPERTY! Turn it into an investment instead.

    Good luck,

    – Whodatis




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    • Pit of vipers says:

      Amen brother. I didn’t understand why all of the Caymanian owned little homes near the beach up where I live are always empty. Then I discovered that the owners do not list on AirBnB and the like. Meanwhile, the couple of expat-owned houses are listed on AirBnB and are always full of tourists. They tell me that they make enough on AirBnB to cover the mortgage on the property. The rest is gravy. Wake up my fellow Caymanians. Embrace the future.




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  9. Anonymous says:

    If the neighbours hadn’t started making claims about this disrupting their ‘private beach’, I may have also been sceptical about the small units (even though I like living somewhere smaller but closer to the action). As soon as I read their consultation responses about how these ‘transient’ low-class people would be on their private and secluded beach, and that the development would affect their poor, sad, SMB property prices, I became in favour of this development.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Nobody said that. The Grove and reporters simply misled the public into believing anybody said that by taking apart quotes and “gluing” them back together to sound like that- if you read the letters what they mean is they don’t want a hotel across the rom (which this clearly is very akin to-400sq/ft room for a “family”) using their private beach amenities- they have a right to that concern- the beach is not “private” but their land on the beach is!




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      • Anonymous says:

        It’s a lame excuse because this concern exists for everyone along the beach, not just for the neighbors of The Groves. I also don’t understand why there is such concern that this will be a “hotel”. How is it different from someone renting a week at The Groves compared to someone renting a week at the Avalon?




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  10. Anonymous says:

    Pathetic nimby losers.




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  11. Annonomys says:

    Awesome decision! I’m thrilled at the decision, it’s a free market and I think small developers need to be recognized too.




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  12. Anonymous says:

    I’ll bet at least AL’T and Bob are happy! Next up keep that rubber stamp handy, DART needs you to take care of that extra 300 feet for him..




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  13. Lumber Cartel says:

    They should also place a hardware store for covenience in the development. Why should I drive to town to buy lumber or a dishwasher?




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  14. Anonymous says:

    Does the CPA ever say no? If so, do they stick to their guns?




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  15. Anonymous says:

    great news…. always nice to see small minded nimby’s put in their place!




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  16. Anonymous says:

    What a nasty world…




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  17. Anonymous says:

    I thought that ALL tourism was transient. I am also willing to bet that some of the condos in the complexes that are objecting are offered for rent via the same websites they are complaining about. Not every person or couple can afford to stay in a beach/water front condo. These should provide an alternative tourism accomodation or longer term rental for residents.




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  18. Anonymous says:

    Oh thank you our wonderful planning board as you are not swayed in your commitment to better our wonderful island. This will help our tourism grow and add many good jobs. This is more of the hard work by our wonderful premier and the unity team. And that a Cayman contractor of such high caliber will build it is all that much better. They use almost all Caymanian workers too. Bless you all.




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  19. Dr. Whittaker says:

    Clearly the correct decision.

    The development is in keeping with the law and zonal designation and is consistent with other developments in Cayman. SMB is one of the world’s premier destinations for tourists, and the growth in facilities will only augment that and benefit the Island as a whole.

    The reality is that the objectors had one issue and one issue only (dressed up in claims about road safety!) – that they wanted to keep their “private” facilities as “exclusive” as possible (despite the beach being public property!).

    While that may be their preference, they don’t own anything beyond their boundary. To expect that they can prevent development of prime land simply because they want seclusion is selfish to the extreme – they always knew the area was going to be developed and opted out of buying the land themselves when they had the chance.

    It is also particularly ironic that they want to “maintain the character of the neighbourhood” by preventing daily rentals, when the VERY developments they are in do the same thing!

    As for claims it will increase crime … how absurd.




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  20. Tut alors!. says:

    Exactly who are the developers, and when did they start marketing the condos?.




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  21. Anonymous says:

    And how many of the owners of the neighbouring properties are actually ‘residents’. I’ll bet the answer to that is along the lines of, ‘not a lot!’




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  22. Anonymous says:

    As a Caymanian, I’m beginning to think real estate prices on the island are becoming ridiculous, partially inflated by unscrupulous, realtors. Fictitious offers and make believe interested parties are all part of da game when pursuing a fat 7%. Also, word of warning, never ask a realtor to represent you when buying if the property is marketed by another realtor. You will pay more than it’s worth because they have to split the 7% so want the agreed price as high as possible. Here come those fictitious offers! Think about it. I’ve had my fingers burnt but I’ve heard there are some honest ones out there somewhere.




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    • anon says:

      CIREBA is a cartel, in any other country it would be prohibited under competion/anti trust laws. Entrenches the elite at the expense of the average Camanian.




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      • anon says:

        The developer and Realtors of the Grove are not Cireba ..so that kind of blows you argument out of the water?
        The market is determined by what the buyer is willing to spend and generally what the vendor decides to list. Which is invariably more than the agent recommends
        Cireba is a choice not a Necessity so the Cartel argument doesn’t stand up either
        Also 90% of realtors in Cireba are Caymanian ? your brethren!!
        And lets face it most of the land you are talking about is also owned by your brethren
        you cant have it both ways!!




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    • Anonymous says:

      This are not being sold by CIREBA members. The developer is selling them directly..




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    • Anonymous says:

      not a fan of realtors…..but economic conditions and market forces dictate property prices….not realtors….
      realtors are happy to sell at any price…..as long as they get their commision




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  23. Anonymous says:

    What about hourly rentals……….




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    • Anonymous says:

      10 minutes would work for me!




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      • Anonymous says:

        10 minutes seems a bit optimistic!




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      • Anonymous says:

        Marathon man!




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      • Anonymous says:

        Most of which is for the cigarette after.




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      • Fred the Piemaker says:

        In an article for The Conversationalist, Dr. Brendan Zietsch, a psychologist from the University of Queensland, writes about what he has learned researching how long heterosexual couples report penetrative sex actually lasts.

        The findings revealed the average time for each couple, across all the times they had sex, ranged from 33 seconds to 44 minutes. Meanwhile, the average across all couples was 5.4 minutes. This means a couple will typically go for an average of 5.4 minutes every time they have sex.

        But, according to a 2008 study of United States and Canadian sex therapists, sex that is “too short” lasts one to two minutes, “adequate” lasts three to seven minutes, and “desirable” is seven to 13 minutes. The range for “too long” went from 10 to 30 minutes.

        It seems that anything longer than ten minutes is ideal, but unusual.

        Sounds like your 10 minutes is pretty good – you are already intothe “too long” (fnarr fnarr) zone.




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    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve already hired my Honduranians and Columbians..ready to get to work!




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  24. Anonymous says:

    But its not a : ” Private beach of condos situated in The Great House, Avalon and Plantana ” . 7 Mile Beach is a public beach .Where do these [people] get the idea they own the beach ? This is the fundamental problem that must be addressed . Don’t worry, the working class people wont destroy your view.




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    • Anonymous says:

      True, the sea is public up to the high water mark, in some places, about 5′ of the +100 ft total beach width. Many developments tolerate public intrusions into their upper beach space for short periods, but they don’t need to by law. They certainly don’t have any obligation to host pool, bbq, and hot shower parties for the interlopers from across the road. Use your head.




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      • Anonymous says:

        I think the correct definition of “the high water mark” is the highest point reached by storm waves. At lease that was what I learnt in school. That will be more than 5′ of the beach width.




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        • Anonymous says:

          It’s actually 10’ above mean high water. And even then it will depend where the property boundary is actually recorded, this can change with wave and storm action.




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        • Anonymous says:

          pure nonsense…..well typical cayman education




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        • Anonymous says:

          were you taught about the tooth fairy too?




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        • Fred the Piemaker says:

          Your school is not a great source for case law. Whilst there is some debate as to which tides constitute “high water”, we are talking about the differences between Spring and neap tides – not storms. Juat think – if it were the highest point in storm, Ivan would imply there was no beach at all for large chunks of the island!




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  25. Anonymous says:

    From a “recent sales” perspective, if they can get the inferred price per square foot for these landlocked mini studios, it will surely lift all condo values in the SMB corridor. I have a feeling they might get lucky with some young and naive early buyers, but ultimately will have to drop prices significantly to see the bulk of the vision realized. They really ought to have been three bedroom family units to fill the rental gap. Grabbing popcorn.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Na….there is a dearth of available, quality and affordable 1 bedrooms available in Cayman. For sale or rent. I say this from my own recent experiences.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Actually the apartments are nearly sold out




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