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Planning and Codes FAQs

Clemson Downtown Corridor Study

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The City of Clemson has been working with the design firm Alta to develop a long-range plan for the College Avenue corridor from Highway 93 to Highway 123. The study began in August of 2017 and has included four public input sessions and a public design charrette. The study looked into issues such as the potential removal of on-street parking (provided the City can build a new parking deck), increasing sidewalk widths, promoting safe bicycle traffic, promoting public transit, addressing private vehicular traffic and cut-through traffic, improving the streetscape planting, lighting and signage, increasing pedestrian safety, the creation of pedestrian plazas, and possibly adding public green/park space.

A final presentation was held on Thursday, February 15th. 

Click here to view  the most current plans, sections, and illustrations.

Click here for a link to a presentation of the ideas so far.

For more information, please contact the City of Clemson Planning & Codes Administration Department at 864-653-2050.

Planning and Codes - General FAQs

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What is the role of the Planning and Codes Department? 

To administer ordinances adopted by the City of Clemson that govern the development and use of private property within the City. 

How can I stay informed about projects being proposed in Clemson?

The City invites and encourages citizen participation in all aspects of our government. There are many ways to stay informed.

Sign up for our citywide e-mails. This includes special announcements, meeting reminders, and other happenings. To join the mailing list click here.

Visit the City website regularly and review the calendar of upcoming meetings and read the agendas for those meetings. The agendas identify when a project is up for review or discussion by the various boards, commissions, and Council.

In addition, the agendas for all meetings of City Council, the Board of Architectural Review, Planning Commission, and Board of Zoning Appeals are advertised in the Daily Journal and copies are physically posted at the information kiosks at City Hall.

All Council, BAR, BZA, and Planning Commission meetings are streamed live on YouTube.

How can I voice my opinion on projects taking place in Clemson?

The City of Clemson staff cares deeply about your concerns and ideas. The most meaningful vehicle for public input is to attend and participate in the meetings of the various boards, commissions, and councils. Most City meeting have a public input component. In addition, all major projects have at least one public input session designed specifically to solicit public opinion. Citizens are also able to email Planning and Codes staff and we will ensure that your message is relayed to the appropriate board, commission, or Council.

Can I review drawings that have been submitted for a project in Clemson?

Once a project has been submitted for approval by any of the boards, commissions, or councils those drawings become public record and are available for review by anyone who wishes to see them. In many cases the drawings or plans can be viewed on the City website. In other cases the drawings are too large, numerous, or otherwise unavailable for on-line viewing and must be viewed by appointment at the Planning and Codes Department. To make an appointment call 864-653-2050.

Where can I view a copy of the City codes and ordinances?

A link to the City Code of Ordinances can be found on the Home Page of the City Website.  For a direct link to the Code of Ordinances click here.

How can I determine the zoning designation of a piece of property?

The zoning map can be found here. You can also email the Zoning and Codes Administrator at jpeabody@cityofclemson.org .  Please note: Although the County Tax Assessor website may indicate a property’s zoning designation, it may or may not be current; contact the Planning and Codes Department for more information.  

What standards/regulations are in place for a specific zoning designation?

Although the Zoning Ordinance can be found here,  you are encouraged to contact the Zoning Administrator by email jpeabody@cityofclemson.org  with specific question. 

What is the comprehensive plan?

South Carolina state law requires that all jurisdictions engaged in local planning and land use regulation comply with the requirements of Title 6 Chapter 29 of the South Carolina Code of Laws (the South Carolina Comprehensive Enabling Act of 1994). One of the main requirements of this legislation is that each community adopts a comprehensive plan. This plan, although not in itself regulatory, serves as a roadmap for the city to use in decision making.  All comprehensive plans in the state must be updated no later than every 10 years, and be reviewed no later than   every 5 years. It should be noted that these deadlines are the maximum time limits, so plans can be reviewed and amended earlier if desired, but proposed change to a document is subject to all of the requirements established for the adoption of a complete plan. 

In 2004, the City of Clemson Comprehensive Plan 2014 was adopted. This plan was updated in 2009. In December of 2014, the City adopted a new Comprehensive Plan for 2014  - 2024. In December of 2019, Council approved an updated version of the Comprehensive Plan.

For a current copy of the Comprehensive Plan click here.

How is the Comprehensive Plan implemented?

The Comprehensive Plan is a roadmap for the City of Clemson to use in decision-making. As is true with the majority of municipalities in the state, Clemson’s Comprehensive Plan is not an enforceable document. Each goal, objective, and strategy is to be considered by the assigned participants. However, until such time as City Council or a City department allocates resources or takes action or until such time as a volunteer organization allocates resources or takes action a specific strategy will not be implemented.

It is worth noting that 60% of the strategies recommended in the 2014 plan were implemented over the ensuing 10 years.

Planning and Planning Commission FAQs

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PLANNING AND PLANNING COMMISSION 

What is a Planning Commission?

Planning commissions in South Carolina are voluntary boards established under the provisions of Title 6 Chapter 29 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, which is commonly known as the Comprehensive Planning Act.  Primarily intended to act as advisory boards assisting the local governing bodies (i.e. City or County Councils), planning commissions devote much of their time studying issues impacting the community, drafting and reviewing proposed plans and ordinances, and performing other tasks associated with the legislative branch of local government.  That said, planning commissions are charged by the state with oversight of a few issues that gives them limited administrative/quasi-judicial powers.  Additionally, in some jurisdictions planning commissions are delegated additional authority by the local governing body to perform tasks not otherwise identified by the state.  Decisions of a planning commission may be appealed to Circuit Court.  It should be noted that any local government in the state intending to adopt standards or plans that regulate or otherwise impose limits on land use must first establish a planning commission.  

What can the Planning Commission do?

In the City of Clemson, as elsewhere in the state, the Planning Commission is responsible directing the preparation of the City's Comprehensive Plan, and reviewing any proposed changes to the Zoning Ordinance Land Development Regulations, and other standards that may impact land use. Other duties of the Commission include approval of street name requests, recommendations related to the consideration of rezoning requests, approval of land development applications associated with subdivisions, and recommendations regarding the proposed amendment of ordinances related to their scope of authority. For a more complete overview of the Planning Commission you may review their by-laws by clicking here.

What can't the Planning Commission do?

The Planning Commission cannot create, enact, or enforce laws or codes. The Planning Commission cannot impose the provisions of any plan that limits or manages growth or change.

Other than approving street names and subdivision development applications, planning commissions only make recommendations.

What is the process by which a proposal is reviewed by the Planning Commission?

All proposals related to changes to the Zoning Ordinance or Land Development Regulations, the rezoning of a property, the creation of or change to planned developments, the development of or changes to the Comprehensive Plan, or other matters related to their scope of authority must be reviewed in open session by the Planning Commission. Applications for review, along with any appropriate materials and fees, must be submitted to the Planning and Codes Administration Department, who coordinates getting the matter placed on a meeting agenda.  The Planning Commission meets monthly, and conducts special meetings as needed.  The deadline for submitting applications to the Planning Commission is two weeks prior to a scheduled meeting. For a list of meeting dates and deadlines click here.

The Commission is comprised of seven volunteer members appointed by Council. The current members of the Planning Commission are:
Larry Allen
L. Curtis Arnold
Nathan Clark
Mary Beth Green
Elaine Richardson
Helen D Steele
Brad White

Board of Architectural Review FAQs

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BAR

What is the Board of Architectural Review (BAR)?

The Board of Architectural Review (BAR) is a quasi-judicial volunteer Board appointed by City Council. Quasi-judicial means they are a public administrative agency with powers and procedures resembling those of a court of law or judge, and which is obligated to objectively determine facts and draw conclusions from them so as to provide the basis of an official action. In other words, the BAR must base its decisions on the evidence presented.  They are responsible for establishing architectural review districts, recommending standards within those districts, and then applying, enforcing, and interpreting those standards. For a more complete overview of the BAR you can peruse their by-laws by clicking here.

The role of the BAR is to review proposed projects within the boundaries of an Architectural Overlay District. There are five Architectural Overlay Districts in Clemson. To view a map of Clemson’s Architectural Overlay Districts click here. Each District has a specific set of standards which apply to that District. To review those standards click here. The purpose of the BAR is to apply those standards to any proposed project within an Overlay District.

What is an Architectural Overlay District?

An overlay district  governing particular areas of town usually situated on a commercial corridors that require additional aesthetic standards to be met in addition the underlining zoning requirements. 

What can the BAR do?

The BAR has the authority to do the following:

  • Recommend the establishment of an Architectural Overlay District to the City Council.
  • Make recommendations to the Planning Commission for specific standards within an Architectural Overlay District
  • Grant a variance from the Architectural Review Standards if certain conditions are met
  • Review applications for permits for projects within an Architectural Overlay District including:

1. All new buildings and structures, excluding single-family residential development and exterior signs for existing commercial buildings. 

  1. All changes of use from residential to nonresidential uses.
  2. Any alteration or addition that increases the total impervious site area or gross floor area of a building. 
  3. Any exterior improvement of a structure  with a value stated on a building permit (or duly determined by the Zoning and Codes Administrator) equaling 50 percent or more of the assessed value  established by the  County Tax Assessor.
  4. All exterior signs for new developments.
  5. All exterior signs and exterior alterations on buildings and sites in the Commercial [C] zoning district. 

What can't the BAR do?

The BAR has limited authority which is primarily focused on the aesthetics of a project. The BAR cannot do the following:

  • Determine or limit the use of a building
  • Deny a project based on its potential role in future non-architectural issues such as  increased traffic,  storm water problems, or unruly/noisy occupants.
  • Deny a project for any reason otherwise allowed by adopted City codes
  • Supersede more restrictive standards which exist elsewhere in City codes
  • Supersede any state or federal laws

How can I find out more about the BAR?

The Board of Architectural Review (BAR)  was created under the provisions set forth in Title 6 Chapter 29 Section 6-29-870 of the S. C. Code of Laws, which  sets guidelines on membership, officers, meetings, records and appeals for all BAR’sin our state. The law further states that the BAR has “those powers involving the structures and neighborhoods as may be determined by the zoning ordinance.” Essentially, the state grants  cities significant latitude in determining how their BAR’s will operate.  In the event standards established under the provisions of the rules permitting the BAR conflict with other regulations allowed by the state, the more restrictive govern. Also, in the event no Architectural District rules specifically permit or prohibit something, zoning district rules apply. Decisions of the BAR may be appealed to Circuit Court.

Although the board plays a very prominent role in the City of Clemson, the establishment of a BAR is optional in South Carolina. In fact, most BAR’s in the state  were created in cities with formally established historic districts, a feature that our city does not have.  Therefore, the City of Clemson is atypical, especially for a town our size. The overwhelming majority of towns in South Carolina do NOT have a BAR.

What is the process by which a project is reviewed by the BAR?

Any project within an Architectural Overlay District requires approval from the BAR in order to proceed. The BAR regularly meets on the first Tuesday of each month , and the deadline to submit applications for review by the BAR is 21 days prior to the meeting date. All BAR meetings are open to the public, and are advertised in the local paperand on the City website.  Additionally, agendas are posted in the information kiosks at City Hall. To download an application for BAR review please click here. For a schedule of BAR meetings please click here.

The Board is comprised of seven volunteer members appointed by Council. The current members of the Board of Architectural Review are:
Wright Henry
Todd G. Howard
Adam Jones
Peter Laurence
Pete Matsko
Kyle McCormick
Nathan Schaupp

Board of Zoning Appeals FAQs

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BZA

What is the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA)?

The BZA is a voluntary board established under the provisions of Title 6 Chapter 29 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, which is commonly known as the Comprehensive Planning Act.  The BZA in the City of Clemson is a seven-person board, and its members are appointed by City Council.  The BZA, which meets on an as-needed basis, responds to citizen requests for  variances to City zoning standards, and approval of allowed special exceptions.  It also hears and rules on appeals of decisions made by the Zoning and Codes Administrator. 

What can the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) do?

The BZA has the authority to:

  • Affirm or reverse, wholly or in part, a decision of the Zoning and Codes Administrator
  • Grant a variance (with or without conditions) from the City Zoning Ordinance
  • Grant special exception usage subject to applicable criteria

How do I submit to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA)?

The board meets monthly as needed, and requires materials to be submitted three weeks prior to a scheduled meeting. Click here for meeting dates, appeals, variances, and special exceptions. Appeals to a decision by the BZA are reviewed by Circuit Court.

The Board is comprised of seven volunteer members appointed by Council. The current members of the Board of Zoning Appeal are:
Lillian Boatwright
Ray Brown
Robert Healy
Greg Nodine
Jonathan Silkworth
Mindy Spearman
Dorrington Williams

Zoning Ordinance FAQs

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ZONING ORDINANCE

How is a standard or code adopted?

  • A proposed standard or code is typically considered as an amendment to the City Code, and may be introduced by a member of the Planning Commission or City Council, or any City resident.
  • Standards/codes within the Planning Commission’s scope of authority are subject to their review prior to the submission of their recommendation to City Council; other matters are typically introduced to, and considered solely by, Council.
  • The public is provided an opportunity to review and comment on all proposed changes to standards/codes; typically, proposed changes are presented on the agenda of at least one publicized public session prior to being voted on by the Planning Commission.
  • Subsequent to the Planning Commission vote, the proposal is presented to City Council, who schedules and conducts a formal public hearing to obtain public input on the matter. Although not always deemed necessary, Council may hold one or more additional public hearings prior to voting on a proposal. It should be noted that a public hearing is a governed by state requirements
  • After receiving public input,  on a proposed change, City Council may utilize additional public hearings (if deemed necessary or appropriate) and holds 2 readings of the proposed code to debate the issues, makes revisions, and then vote the codes in or out.
  • State law requires any proposed standard/code being considered by City Council to be presented and voted on at no less than two public Readings.  

Once a standard/code  is adopted, the role of City staff is to implement or enforce it. It should be noted that City staff cannot change or in any manner alter what was adopted by City Council.  

How can I propose, challenge, or change a code or standard?

To propose, challenge, or change a code or standard a person must submit a request  to the Planning Commission. This is typically done by appearing in person to explain the proposal and reason the change is requested.  If deemed worthy of further consideration, the Commission will instruct staff to develop an appropriate draft ordinance, which, if subsequently approved, will be recommended to City Council.  If City Council chooses to advance the proposal, there will be a formal Public Hearing on the matter to gather public input, after which will be  two readings and votes on the proposal.  

We recommend that anyone interested in changing a code or ordinance to start by contacting the staff at Planning and Codes. To get on the Planning Commission agenda click on the appropriate application type below:
Requests to appear in front of this board can be made using the appropriate forms linked below. 

Rezoning Application
Minor Subdivision Request: Five Lots or Less
Subdivision Request: Greater than Five Lots
PD Form 1: Planned Development Application - Planning Commission Workshop
PD Form 2: Planned Development Application - Informal Public Meeting
PD Form 3: Planned Development Application - Zoning Map Amendment
Notice of Appeals
Land Development Variance Application
Simple Lot Subdivision Application

Rental Housing FAQs

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RENTAL HOUSING

What is the Rental Housing Ordinance?

An ordinance that governs the renting of  private property in the City of Clemson. All rental property that falls under the Rental Housing Ordinance are required to have a rental housing permit.  

What types of properties are covered by the Rental Housing Ordinance?

All properties not considered apartments require the owner to obtain a permit before renting them. Apartment buildings are  structures designed with units above or below each other. If no units are situated on top of one another in a structure, it is not considered an apartment building, and needs a rental housing permit. 

Do these ​new large student ​properties have restrictions/rules?...  ie can students have pets? ​

Some properties (most of the larger ones) have covenants or rules that allow residents to keep pets. The UCenter, for example, currently allows pets.  It should be noted, however, that this may be a short-lived allowance, for some developments use this perk to help fill up spaces in year one.  In the event they are 9​7​% full in year two, they may rescind the rule.  No idea how many if any students will be bringing pets. 

How many ​students ​can share an apartment of a certain size?​

Unless the project is or was done as a Planned Development, apartment complexes have a maximum occupancy based on what is allowed by the zoning designation of the land. For downtown, that is 4 per unit regardless of the number of bedrooms.  Most of the new units downtown are 4 bedrooms so they won't be having dormitory style living like they do at Campus View.

Is there a noise ordinance? ​

Yes. The City has a noise ordinance that states (along with other things) that: yelling, shouting, loud conversation, whistling, singing, ​music, ​and all other excessive verbal noise, whether electronically amplified or not, is not allowed between 10:30 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. in residential and noise-sensitive areas, nor at any other time or location if the noise is excessive and unreasonably disturbs the quiet, comfort, or repose of a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities. This prohibition is not intended to restrict the content of legal speech, but is intended to address public health, welfare, safety, and quality of life. The Clemson Police regulate the noise ordinance and are the ones to call if there is a problem.

Who will manage​ properties once​ ​or if they are sold?  ​The owners or their agent? ​Who will enforce rules if there are any?  ​​

If it is a City ordinance being violated it will be ​the Planning and Codes department or the police. If it is a covenant specific to the property (something above and beyond a City ordinance or state law​)​ it will be up to the property manager to enforce.

Building and Permits FAQs

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BUILDING AND PERMITS

What type of work requires a building permit?

Refer to Section 105.2 of the applicable Code that your project will fall under for a list of work exempt from permitting. Currently, the City of Clemson has adopted the 2018 Code series of the International Code Council (ICC).  

How do I obtain a building permit?

As different permits require different submittals, please contact the front desk for information by calling 864-653-2050. 

How long does the building review process take?

The City of Clemson typically asks applicants to allow 30 days to complete the review process. Please note that, while the department strives to complete all reviews as quickly and efficiently as possible, this does not guarantee that a project will be approved in 30 days. 

What do I need to know before submitting a request for a building permit?

Even though your application and support materials are submitted to the Planning and Codes office, multiple other City offices are involved in the review process. Please note that the review schedules and times for those offices are beyond the control of Planning and Codes staff.  Therefore, all offices involved in the review process should be contacted directly by the developer, contractor, and/or owner for information. 

When do I need a grading permit?

Any time more than 3 yards (a small dump trucks worth) of soil is being moved

When do I need a demolition permit?

When demolition of a structure is necessary and you are not ready to move forward with obtaining a building permit. The building permit will cover most demolition.

How do I obtain a demolition permit?

Usually a submission of a demolition permit application will be enough. In cases where demolition is happening in congested areas and high traffic areas, the City of Clemson will require the submission of a Site Safety Plan that illustrates how the contractor proposes to handle public safety at the time of demolition.

What do I need to know about Floodplain Management?

In order for residents of a jurisdiction to be eligible to obtain flood insurance on their property, the jurisdiction must be a member in good standing with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).   

What is a Certificate of Elevation and when do I need one?

An Elevation Certificate is an important administrative tool of the National Flood Insurance Program. It is used to provide elevation information necessary to ensure compliance with community floodplain management ordinances. This is used to determine the proper insurance premium rates. You are required to submit an Elevation Certificate when there are any developments inside certain flood zones.

What is the process of receiving a Certificate of Occupancy?

Issuance of CO will not be given until the project has received and passed a final inspection. Depending on the project, multiple City Departments will have their own requirements for CO issuance. These Departments should be contacted individually. 

When do I need a sign permit?

Most signs - be they permanent or temporary - require a permit. 

How do I obtain a sign permit?

You apply at the Planning and Codes Department.  For free standing signs we will need a site plan showing the proposed location of the sign on the property as well as an illustration of the proposed sign. For wall mounted signs we will need a drawing of the building façade on which the sign will be mounted, as well as the dimensions of the façade and the height and dimensions of the sign. Click here for a sign application.

Subdivision/Plat Work FAQs

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SUBDIVISION/PLAT WORK

What is the process of subdividing a piece of property?

The subdivision of property in the City of Clemson is governed by the Land Development Regulations (Chapter 15 of the City Code of Ordinances).  Proposed subdivisions are categorized primarily based on the number of resulting lots, and whether new streets are created.  It should be noted that, although staff has been delegated authority to approve Simple Lot Subdivisions (four or fewer lots with no new streets), all Major and Minor Subdivisions are subject to review and approval by the Planning Commission.  To determine which category a proposed subdivision falls into, as well as what materials and fees are required, contact the Planning and Codes Department.

 

What is the process of combining several parcels of land into one?

State law provides that while the re-combination of multiple parcels of land is not subject to the approval of local governments, they must be provided notice of such actions for information purposes.  In the City of Clemson, plats illustrating a proposed recombination, along with a $50 fee, must be submitted to the Planning and Codes Department for review prior to being recorded at the County Register of Deeds Office (please note that the Register of Deeds will not record any plat for lands inside the City without the appropriate City endorsement). Contact the Planning and Codes Department for more information

Land Development Regulations

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Land Development Regulations

Draft

The latest draft of the updated Land Development Regulations will be presented to Council for First Reading at their meeting on October 1, 2018.  Since receiving public input and being forwarded to City Council by the Planning Commission in January, 2018, the proposed update has been given two public hearings (May 21 and June 18) and been reviewed in three separate workshops by City Council.  The draft under consideration includes a number of standards intended to address aspects of development not addressed by current regulations.  Included among these are tree canopy coverage and protection, development standards for steep slope areas, and open space requirements.  Additionally, the draft is intended to provide developers better clarity of the review and permitting process of subdivisions. Click here to view the ordinance.

City of Clemson Comprehensive Master Plan

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City of Clemson Comprehensive Master Plan

"South Carolina state law requires that all jurisdictions engaged in local planning and land use regulation comply with the requirements of Title 6 Chapter 29 of the South Carolina Code of Laws (the South Carolina Comprehensive Enabling Act of 1994). One of the main requirements of this legislation is that each community adopts a comprehensive plan. This plan, although not in itself regulatory, serves as a roadmap for the city to use in decision making.  All comprehensive plans in the state must be updated no later than every 10 years, and be reviewed no later than   every 5 years. It should be noted that these deadlines are the maximum time limits, so plans can be reviewed and amended earlier if desired, but proposed change to a document is subject to all of the requirements established for the adoption of a complete plan. 

In 2004, the City of Clemson Comprehensive Plan 2014 was adopted. This plan was updated in 2009. In December of 2014, the City adopted a new Comprehensive Plan for 2014  - 2024. In December of 2019, Council approved an updated version of the Comprehensive Plan.

For a current copy of the Comprehensive Plan click here."

Fire and Life Safety FAQs

Fire and Life Safety FAQs

Maintenance of Battery-Operated Emergency Lights

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Maintenance of Battery-Operated Emergency Lights

In order to meet both federal certification and state licensure requirements, health care facilities must provide emergency lighting for all exits and designated portions of the exit access and exit discharge [see NFPA 101(12), Sections 18.2.9/19.2.9 and 7.9. “Designated portions of the exit access and exit discharge” include stairs, aisles (in rooms or spaces that require two or more means of egress), corridors, ramps, escalators and passageways. Emergency lighting outside the building must be provided to either a public way or a distance away from the building that is considered safe (typically defined as 50 ft. away from the building), whichever is closest. A minimum of 90 minutes of illumination is required.

Emergency lighting can be supplied by storage batteries, unit equipment or an on-site generator. This guide is only intended to cover unit equipment (also known as battery-operated emergency lights) and EXIT signs provided with a battery-operated emergency illumination source. 

Click here to download the full guidelines for maintenance and testing.

Click here to download the emergency light check form.

For more information, contact the City of Clemson Fire Marshal at 864-653-2050.

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