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200 Opponents of a Matanzas Woods Complex Tantalized By City Hints of a Solution

| November 3, 2011

The opposition to an apartment or condo complex in Matanzas Woods has been as well-oiled as a political campaign. The 200 participants at the meeting at Indian Trails Middle School's cafeteria Thursday evening were greeted with a quick summary and contacts about Matanzas Woods issues by organizer Linda Spilling Markey. (© FlaglerLive)

Some 200 people packed the Indian Trails Middle School cafeteria this evening, beckoned there by Palm Coast city officials who wanted to hear their ideas, though the city already knows what those ideas are: The Matanzas Woods crowd is upset that a site plan for a 50-unit apartment complex on 10.8 acres in their midst is awaiting the city’s approval.

The crowd is made up of residents who live in single-family homes around that acreage, oddly zoned for multi-family homes in the middle of a sea of single-family residences. The residents fear that a two-story apartment complex, besides being unsightly, would degrade their property values and invite a lower class of renters seeking cheap housing in 900-square foot apartments.

Packed house. Click on the image for larger view.
(© FlaglerLive)

Almost all the Matanzas Woods homeowners bought their lots and homes under the impression that the whole neighborhood was zoned for single-family homes—until the city revealed that a map designation of “reserved” land had nothing to do with preservation, and everything to do with reserving that land for potential development for multi-family residences. The city is blaming old county maps for the misunderstanding. The city itself, Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon told the crowd this evening, had nothing to do with the designation. It inherited it from ITT, the developer that conceptualized and built the original Palm Coast, before it was a city.

The veracity of those claims is murky, given numerous homeowners claim that despite their homework on the properties surrounding their own, they never knew, nor did Realtors know, that the maps showed a potential multi-family development. The residents now want the zoning changed in order to keep it consistent with Palm Coast’s overall planning blueprint plan for the area. But Palm Coast can’t just change the zoning.

Actually, it can. The city council changes zoning designations frequently. But when it’s up against a property owner with specific intentions for that land, the city can’t risk changing the zoning that would restrict those intentions and then face litigation, which would be costly, and likely place the city at the losing end. “Going to court, for us, when we deal with people’s property rights, we usually lose,” Landon said, not without lack of sympathy for the Matanzas Woods residents. He described the possibility of apartment complex in the middle of a single-family residential starkly: “It doesn’t work, it’s stupid. But it’s what we inherited, and now we have to figure out how to fix it, and that’s what we’re trying to do here. If the city council tries to downgrade the zoning, I can tell you what the law is called, it’s called the Bert Harris Act, the only way they can do that is the actually go in and buy the property.”

Jim Landon

Jim Landon (© FlaglerLive)

The property in question was foreclosed by Putnam State Bank. The bank now wants to sell the property for $500,000, but not before it can certify to a buyer that the land could be turned to profit with, say, a 50-unit apartment complex. There actually is no builder now, nor is the bank planning to build anything there. But the bank wants the property entitled so it can sell it at a premium.

“There is no done deal,” Landon told the crowd before also begging off talking about the site plan. “I have to stress, I know it’s frustrating, we can’t talk about the given application, the site-plan application that Putnam Bank has in right now,” he said, describing the process as “very formal” and “quasi-judicial” and “almost like a court of law” where both sides get to state their case at public hearings before the city’s planning board and, if either side appeals, before the city council, neither of which make decisions without hearing both sides. “That’s why we can’t talk about it tonight because city council shouldn’t just be hearing one side. They have to hear both sides. If they hear one side and not the other, then what will happen is the other side will appeal it, we almost guarantee we lose.”

Landon would have been right if in fact that had been a meeting of the council or of the planning board. It wasn’t. It was a meeting the city administration called with residents, or anyone else concerned about the Sawgrass project, to talk about it. The administration could have very well talked about the site plan: it’s a public record, its mechanics are no secret (or shouldn’t be), and no one at the meeting could have taken a vote or made a decision about anything related to the plan. Landon didn’t want to get into the details of the plan because it might have taken the discussion in directions more specific to the residents’ objections than what he had in mind. And he spent a good deal of time on long tangents about the ABC Liquor store, eminent domain, other areas in Palm Coast where multi-family projects may be built. “Please, let’s don’t talk about the actual case in front of us,” he literally said at one point, “let’s talk about what you would like to see happen on this property.”

In that regard, Landon had an idea of his own for the property, and residents liked what they heard.

Putnam Bank wants to open a branch in Palm Coast. The city is in discussions with the bank to have that branch at the intersection of Bulldog Drive and State Road 100, the parcel where Sonics, the restaurant, wanted to be located until it was reportedly driven off by too-stringent city regulations. Palm Coast bought the lot last October for $1.15 million. Landon said that Putnam might be convinced to buy that lot for enough money that would enable the city to then buy the Matanzas Woods parcel and turn it into a conservation area or a low-impact park with trails and a small playground. And eliminate the multi-family residential headache. But even that was complicated. “It’s not really a land swap, because we’ve got to buy it and they’ve got to buy it from us and they don’t really buy it, they have to have a developer. I won’t try to get into—all I can say is that if the city can obtain the property, Putnam Bank can obtain some of our property, we have open space, they have a bank on 100.”

Of course, the crowd was not opposed to that.

“Banks don’t do this,” Landon said. “This is really weird to us. The banks are trying very hard to keep their heads above water right now. That’s why they want cash. What does that mean? Now is a good time to make a deal.”

Landon led most of the roughly 75-minute meeting after an odd statement from Holsey Moorman, the city council member, and one of three council members present (Bill Lewis and Frank Meeker were the others). Matanzas Woods used to be in Moorman’s district. It no longer is. It’s now Meeker’s. Yet it was Moorman who addressed the crowd, a subtle political gift from Landon: Moorman is in a tough re-election campaign against Bill McGuire, who may not be as supportive of Landon as Moorman has been. The meeting tonight was a chance for Moorman to look good in front of 200 people. He didn’t miss the chance. “We are just as concerned as you are in maintaining the property values in Matanzas Woods,” he said. “We are not going to ram something down your throat, and hopefully you are not going to attempt to ram something down the city’s throat that won’t work best for everyone.” (McGuire said this evening that he had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t make the meeting.)

Landon himself showed his skill at playing to the crowd, as when he was asked by a resident who, in the end, had clout in this issue, and who would make the final decision. The final decision, Landon said, passing over his own council, would be the courts. But public involvement, too, would have its say. “You pack that council chamber,” Landon said, “hard to vote against you. Hard to vote against a full house. I won’t say they won’t, but I’m going to tell you, if you stay home, not a squeaky wheel? It’s easy. That’s how this game is played. Be active, be vocal, stay involved.”

That has not been an issue: Landon had earlier described the Matanzas activism as the single-biggest, or second-biggest, he’d seen in his years in Palm Coast.

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16 Responses for “200 Opponents of a Matanzas Woods Complex Tantalized By City Hints of a Solution”

  1. BW says:

    What’s interesting though is that the issue is larger than this one parcel as has been communicated with the City and Frank Meeker directly. The bigger problem lies in the fact there are 4 or 5 parcels in Mataznas Woods that will result in the same issue. They are mutli-family zoned in the middle of single family existing residences. Palm Coast zoning says you can not build single-family on a multi-family zoned parcel. Palm Coast LDC says you can’t build “incompatible” structures amongst single-family residences. So unless Mr. Landon is proposing that the City purchase all of these parcels, you’re simply putting off the same problem popping up at a later date.

    No, the City should not be able to force re-zoning on any land. BUT the City needs to recognize the real problem and create options for this unique situation in Matanzas Woods. This does not exist in any other subdivision in Palm Coast.

    Part of the confusion for resident is that the Property Appraiser’s website shows this parcel as being zoned as individual lots for a future street called Leighton Ave. The City zoning map (which takes some digging to find on the website and is a PDF file and not ‘interactive’ like the PA Site) shows the whole parcel (and others) in ‘brown’ which indicates multi-family. So it has been very difficult for residents to know prior to it being an issue.

  2. PalmCoastPioneers says:

    Florida Public Offering Statement
    Filed by
    28 West Flagler Street
    Miami, Florida 31230
    13,501 homesite lots, typically 80 feet x 125 feet, platted of record in Flagler County , Florida
    Disignated as
    Sections 1 through 19
    Effective date: July 30, 1971
    Part 1
    Palm Coast is being developed by ITT Community Development Corporation (“the Cmpany”) . The propertyis located in Flagler County, Floirda, less than one miles east of Interstate Highway 95, less than five miles east of U.S. Highway 1, and less than two miles west of State Road A1A, all of which run in a generally north-south direction. It is adjacent to boeh St. Joe Road and Palm Coast Parkway, which run in a generally east-west direction. It is located six miles northwest of Flagler Beach ( Population 1,000) and 11 miles northeast of Bunnell (Population: 1,900) . St. Augustine is 27 miles to the north on State Road A1A and U.S. Highway 1 and has a population of 12,000; Daytona Beach is 24 miles to the south on State Road A1A and U.S. Highway 1 and has a population of 45,000.

    Palm Coast, Sections 1 – 19 , consists of 13,501 homesite lots, typically 80 feet x 125 feet.
    Palm Coast is the first development of the Company. The Company plans to develop 20,000 acres in Palm Coast at present and may develop substantial additional acreage of contiguous lands held within the ITT system.

    There are no mortages encumbering this property.
    The property is being offered for sale subject too:
    1. Public streets and easement for drainage and utilities including community antenna television facilities.
    2. Covenants and restriction imposed to

    limit use of the homesites to residential purposes,

    to create setback lines, and size requirements, to regulate the use of canals and waterways, to create an architectural control committee and to establish other standards and requirements which are customary for the preservation and maintenance of the residential character of the property being offered.
    3. The right of ITT Rayonier, Inc. to harvest merchantable timber on the properties, including plantation timber, until such time as deeds are delievered to purchasers, after which such time rights shall cease.
    4. Any applicable ordinances, regulations and statues.
    Access to the property is from Interstate Highway 95 to State Route 100 and then Old Kings Road to Palm Coast Parkway. Access to homesites will be over hard – surfaced streets.

    The Property is being offered for use as residential homestites.

    Certain areas of the property have been set aside for multi-family use, and these have been so noted in the Covenants and Retrictions
    in Flagler County.

    The topography is generally flat; the elevation varies from four to forty feet above sea level. The soil is sandy and supports a growth of pine, oaks, palm and cypress. During wet weather the property does require drainage, provision for which has been made by the Company. Nominal fill may be required for home contruction. There is presently no zoning ordinance in Flagler County


    Federal Trade Commission ‘Consent Agreement’ C-2854 for REDRESS ordered for Palm Coast, Inc. …

    ….It is further ordered….

    ‘….significant areas of conservation…’
    ‘…significant areas of preservation…’


    ‘…significant areas of recreation….’.

    ***Federal Trade Commissions’ ‘Consent Agreement’ C-2854; Federally ordered 15 year ‘Compliance Report’ with Exhitits A and Exhibits B.

  3. PalmCoastPioneers says:

    December 1, 1989

    Federal Trade Commission
    Atlanta Regional Office
    Room 1000
    1718 Peachtree St., N.W.
    Atlanta , GA

    RE: Federal Trade Commission Decision and Order issued December 10, 1976 ( Decision and Order ) – In the Matter of International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation , ITT Community Development Corporation and Palm Coast, Inc.

    Dear Sir

    The follow is in response to the reporting requirement set forth in the unnumbered paragraph on Page 16 of the Decision and Order.

    From an historical perspective, in 1069, ITT Community Development Corporation ( CDC) began a master plan of a community now known as Palm Coast. As a significant step in that prosess, in 1974, CDC entered into an Agreement with Florida’s Deivision of State Planning for the purpose of developing a Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP ) as a logical and effective process to guide and control the orderly development of Palm Coast. The CLUP is a five volume, 14000 page guide for residential, commercial, industrial and public service growth for 42,000 acres. The development plans entend to the 21st Century for a community which is capable of supporting 224,000 people.

    In accordance with the CLUP and consistent with the Decision and Order, of the 48,000 available acreage, the 42,000 acres mentioned above are planned for community development, including + 46,000 registered homesites + 43,000 of which have been sold), 4 industrial parks, shopping centers and various amenities.

    Since 1980 , all homesite infrastructure improvements, I.E. roads ( 533 miles), drainage, central water ( 529 miles) and central sewer ( 508 miles) have been completed by CDC. In addition, CDC has constructed an extensive water management system designed to replenish the area’s water table that includes 46 miles of freshwater canals and another 23 miles of saltwater canals bordering many homes and homesites leading to the Intracoastal Waterway. Water and wastewater plants operated by Palm Coast Utility Corporation have consistently won numerous state awards for operating excellence.

    The 4 Industrial parks mentioned above, currently homes to approximately 35 companies, have been developed to balance the economic development of the community and provide employment. Some facilities are in the construction stage and negotiations continue with more than 30 additional industrial prospects. Exhibit A attached to this letter provides a complete listing of present industrial operations in Palm Coast.

    In the commercial area, in 1979, the Palm Harbor Shopping Center became a reality. The shopping center consists of 26 merchants and is anchored by a 36, 464 square foot Publix Supermatket and Eckerds Drug Store. In 1987, CDC opened St. Joe Plaza, a new CDC shopping center which currently has 21 merchants. A new full service Wal-Mart Discount Department Store opened in 1988 in yet another shopping Plaza as a major store in a group of 19 stores and restaurants ( total of 85,000 square feet). More recently, in the southern end of the community, another 85,000 square foot shopping center opened this year containing 20 merchants and is anchored by Winn Dixie Supermarket and Rite-Aid Drugstore. See Exhibit A for an extensive reference to the commercial enterprises in Palm Coast.

    On the governmental level , a 7.5 million Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) facility opened in Palm Caost in 1987. The 133,000 square foot complex of dormitories, classrooms and support facilities train some 3,300 FAA managers yearly having a multi-million dollar impact to the regional economy over 20 years. In addition, the U.S. Postal Service has opened a new 21,000 square foot facility in Palm Coast. Within the last 18 months the county government has expanded in excess of $ 900,000 .00 for the construction of a new main fire station and a recreation complex focused on an olympic sized pool.

    Recreation has always been an important ingredient of Palm Coast Lifestyle. CDC has constructed three 18 hole Championship Golf Courses
    and a fourth Championship golf course is currently under construction. The Palm Coast Players Club, opened in 1986, with hard court, clay and grass tennis playing surfaces. The club earned the distinction of “197 Court of the Year” from TENNIS INDUSTRY magazine and the American Society of Landscape Architects.l The Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club is a complete fitness facility with a 25 meter heated pool, four tennis courts and comprehensive Nautilus Room. The Palm Coast Marina, recognizes as one of the finest harbors between Hilton Head and Fort Lauderdal, opened in 1979 and serves boaters with 80 slips and comprehensive services, including a ship’s store for supplies and gifts. The Marina is now part of a Resort Setting on the Intracoastal Waterway that includes CDC’s 154 room waterfront Sheraton and the Harbor Club Vacation Resort. Exhibit B attached to this letter provides a more indepth description of recreational facilities in Palm Coast.
    From an education perspective, in 1983, Daytona Beach Community College opened a branch campus with an open air Performing Arts Pavilion. Currently, the County government is constructing a new $6 million elementary School and is expending over $13 million in renovations/ expansion at the Flagler/Palm Coast High School.

    “Florida Trend” magazine predicted Flagler County would, on a percentage basis, have the state’s fastest growth rate over the next five years. This is corroborated by U.S. Census Bureau figures which, based on a percentage basis, identifies Flagler County as the third fastest growing county in the nation during the 1080-1987 period with an 89% growth rate. Palm Coast, with its 7,552 dwelling units ( 6,784 single family and 786 multifamily) and its population of approximately 15,000 ( 60% of Flagler County’s total population is the major catalyst behing this explosive growth rate.
    Very Truly Yours,
    Richard Braunstein

  4. PalmCoastPioneers says:

    …and what about all the other many ‘Blue Lands’ a.k.a ‘Reserved Parcels’ per State of Florida Department of Community Affiairs ‘Agreements’ between the State and I.T.T. ordered for Palm Coast, Inc….
    Was there any mention of all of them since there are so many?
    Thank you.

    P.S. We have asked and asked and asked and asked the city per the direction of the State of Florida Attorney General Honorable Pam Bondi….to give us back our ‘Neighborhood Park* and ‘Neighborhood Park Parking Area’ that we not only paid for but is within the Federal REDRESS of ‘…recreational Lands…’
    We have not heard a reply back ; perhaps the city is busy or something.
    Consequently we had to contact the Honorable First Lady Michelle Obama and ask her to please ask the city to give us this back –
    We can hope –

  5. Charles Ericksen, Jr says:

    There are a few bits of information, that were discussed in the first neighborhood meeting, that were not mentioned this time. The City stated in the first meeting, that the land , was automatically re zoned and brought into compliance with it’s new Land Development Code, at the time, that the City was formed in 1999. I believe it was the City that added, the multiple family units designation at this time. Putnam Bank, which has a branch office now, just West of the intersection of Route 100 and Belle Terre, and is represented by Jay Livingston, a local attorney, was willing to consider selling the property to the neighorhood or the City for use as a City Park. Mr. Meeker was present for the first meeting, but was not well received, because he continued to invoke, the quasi-judicial/public hearing possibility, something the neighborhood residents did not understand. They wanted him to talk more, but he could not. This is a well intentioned group, that has held it’s own meetings, with 100’s in attendence, and I can understand their concern of 2 story buildings going into it’s backyards, with but an 8 foot plastic fence between them. There were many questions also of fire safety, as there would be but one entrance way into the proposed units ,and it had never been checked to see if a fire vehicle could make the turn into the small entrance. But it does look like the City is willing to work more now, in reaching an agreement , and is moving in the right direction.

  6. Layla says:

    This “manager” is involved in many of these “deals”. And they all have to do with developers. The same is true for your council and your county commission, and one candidate running for office.

    If you have not figured out by now that Palm Coast is run by the Builders you have not been paying attention. So many empty shops, yet they build new ones. So many empty houses, yet they build new ones.

    They don’t care what you think. It provides $$$$$$$.

    You get the kind of government you deserve. Most won’t vote.

  7. palmcoaster says:

    I totally believe that Pioneer and Ericksen are correct. Palmcoasters were stripped from their amenities and the original land use filed by ITT with the FTC when they bought their land and homes in Palm Coast. That was illegally done. Those amenities and adjacent land designations were “grand fathering”. I support the claims of those Matanzas Woods residents and please research the next link that proofs yours and all Palmcoasters rights; Your rights to the Matanzas Golf Course should be addressed as well. All the old ITT former personnel including Mr.Meeker sure know well about it all.
    We need to go to an outside of Florida law firm on a contingency basis, if necessary and present our case to;
    A)recover our Palm Coast Marina (still profitable) back to our hands aka city, (B) our “Tennis Players Club” and unkept eyesore and again for sale and its ocean front pool and cabanas illegaly given to Ginn by the county commission without a referendum, just before Palm Coast incorporated, as we were under county rule. Would be great to get back our pool on the beach paying an affordable membership to maintain it.
    C) the Matanzas Golf course to the Matanzas residents in working condition as they paid higher prices for their homes locations on that course.
    C) be refunded the 5 million of Palm Coast tax payers used to repair the damage done by Centex to our reclaimed Palm Habor Golf Course in order to reopen it.
    All here should remember the bigh fight we endured the C section residents, to recover our Palm Harbor Golf Course when it became a big eyesore further undermining the value of our homes. These 5 million owned to us all, has to be refunded, wether by ITT or Centex.
    Landon is correct, in one thing only, showing up in large numbers to each meeting will secure victory.

  8. palmcoaster says:

    Dear and dedicated Pioneer, no city of Palm Coast, no Pam Bondi either Michelle Obama will be able to help Palmcoasters on these grand fathering violations they will all resort to silence as is too hot issue. Only a good out of Florida law firm would, on a contingency basis. These few amenities and millions that we are demanding to be refunded to Palmcoasters will not make or break these corporations, if judgement will be in our side, wether against ITT, Lowes, Centex or Pulte now. But instead will mean a world of difference in benefits and home price improvements for Palmcoasters. If Pulte wants their own Marina they have plenty of room to build one, the existing one was illegaly adquired, as is ours. Anyway Pulte inherited the non compliance of Centex with building back our Palm Habor Resort (I still have their rendering T-Shirt handed out by their faithful FCCO(U)O) and a big vacant land instead. If they did not comply, why are we not recovering our grand fathering Marina? We have two reasons then to get it back and soon before the statute of limitation kicks in and no matter what our City Mayor Netts and Bob DeVore Lowes Developer and also current TDC Board Member, may say.

  9. Rob says:

    Jim Landon has more stories than Herman Cain.

    “Going to court, for us, when we deal with people’s property rights, we usually lose,” Landon said,

    That didn’t stop him and the town council from embarking on that costly blunder of land taking on Bulldog Drive. At first they didn’t want to use imminent domain then they were all gung ho for it. They paid off one of land owner’s tenant to break the lease and move out, drove business out of the city and then backed away from the mess they created.

    Further on he says.
    “You pack that council chamber,” Landon said, “hard to vote against you. Hard to vote against a full house…..

    A packed house didn’t stop the town council from voting for a tax rate increase. Yes a tax rate increase. Even though they tell you “but your tax bill has gone down” the tax rate has still increased.

  10. palmcoaster says:

    Sunsport Beach Club: Seasonal Pool; Sun Deck with Chairs and Lounges; Towels; Dune Walkover to Beach; Restrooms, Snack Bar and Refreshments; Fishing Equipment Rentals; Retail Beach Supplies Annual $ 250.
    The above was an amenity that was taken away from us as well and I enjoyed until right before Palm Coast Incorporation in 1999.

  11. palmcoaster says: Federal Trade Commision versus ICDC in1991.
    Palmcoasters Class Action on a contingency basis needed, to recover all our originally land development filed with FTC, covenants and restrictions and all that is ours including our beloved amphitheater in the DBCC Palm Coast Campus located in the corner of Colbert Lane and Palm Coast Parkway East . Practically shut down to us all now, by the college Board for alleged financial reasons.
    Is decaying, unkept…just give it back to us and maybe with some volunteers, we can spruce it up and our community will put it to needed good use as originally intended when ITT donated it for the residents palmcoasters art, etc. events to be held there.

  12. PalmCoastPioneers says:

    Palm Coaster – As you may be aware, the U.S. Navy Bands’ Conductor, Dr. Charles T. Gabrielle, also ‘composer in residence’ in Palm Coast at that time composed Palm Coast s’ own ‘ Palm Coast Festival Park March’.
    Chris Pryor, Principal at Matanzas Woods High School says the Band would play our Palm Coast ‘March’.
    Consequently we have made a plea as surviving Palm Coast Pioneers to Honorable Carol W. Eaton, President of D.S.U. to please make our Amphitheater bright and shiney again so the newer Palm Coasters’ can hear the ‘Palm Coast March’.
    We hope also that the 100 acres donated to us for the Campus will soon become a Major University site ; perhaps with great Vocational Emphasis, and thereby attract people to Palm Coast for the higher education offered here. We can hope.
    We think it would be great to uplift the Community Spirit of Palm Coast.
    We are trying…

  13. PalmCoastPioneers says:

    Reply to BW-
    The situation that exists in the Palm Coast Community of Matanzas Woods does indeed exist in other Communities of Palm Coast –
    As one example: Country Club Place, Cambridge Court, and Cypress Court for starters –
    Also Does anyone know how this affects the density, after all, worldwide advertising of Palm Coast..
    ‘…..density of 2.7 per acre….less than that of Beverly Hills…’.
    and the Federal REDRESS of ‘…significant acres of conservation…’ and ‘significant acres of preservation..’ and ‘…significant areas of Recreation…’ clearly stated with the Federal ‘Consent Agreement’.
    Anyone know?
    Thank you.

  14. palmcoaster says:

    Thank you Pioneer, your input appreciated. Hope we can achieve something regarding the request to DBCC Board.
    I will try to be present at the Matanzas Woods and city council meeting to support this area Palmcoasters as well.

  15. Layla says:

    Take a look at the new headline, Candidate interviews. We are screwed. Palm Coast is going to go ahead with this overbuilding of low income properties whether we want it in our neighborhoods or not.

    Landon, DeLorenzo and the developers win. We can’t even get people to vote. They don’t give a damn. Meanwhile, the city is destroying the value of our neighborhoods intentionally just as fast as they can keep putting all this low income housing up.

    Aren’t property values already in the toilet? Why do you support these idiots in elected office? They are killing us.

  16. Rob says:

    The word should have been

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