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EYA is seeking to build 174 single-family homes on the former Topgolf site in Kingstowne (via Fairfax County)

The Fairfax County Planning Commission has teed up an approval of a residential development that could replace Rudy’s Golf and Sports Bar in Kingstowne with nearly 200 single-family homes.

Commissioners voted unanimously on Feb. 14 to recommend approval of the development proposal for 6626 South Van Dorn Street, which once hosted a Topgolf before Rudy’s opened in 2022.

The decision came weeks after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a comprehensive plan amendment to increase the housing density allowed at the proposed site from three to four units per acre to 10 units.

The Maryland-based housing developer, EYA Development, initially proposed a much larger project in 2015 that would’ve added 275 residential units and up to 70,000 square feet of retail. However, the developer had to revise its plans multiple times in the face of opposition before finally securing community support.

The latest plan would transform the 17-acre property into 174 single-family homes, 18 of which will be designated as affordable, and create several acres of public park space.

Most attendees at last month’s Board of Supervisors public hearing on the comprehensive plan amendment expressed support, but there were still some holdouts, notably the Franconia Land Use Committee. Speakers argued that the proposed increase in density was inappropriate for the site, citing concerns over traffic congestion and environmental impact.

But when Franconia District Planning Commissioner Daniel Lagana questioned Cooley LLP lawyer Mark Looney about potential traffic concerns last week, the developer representative countered that the property owner has the right to lease out the former Ruby Tuesday restaurant at any time — a move that could generate more traffic than the proposed development.

“Were that restaurant operating at its full capacity with, let’s say, two fast-food-type restaurants, it would have significantly more daytime traffic, as well as higher peak hour traffic in both the morning and evening along South Van Dorn Street,” Looney said.

Looney noted that EYA plans to construct a new underground detention vault, replacing the existing one that’s over two decades old, and multiple bioretention facilities — also known as rain gardens — to capture and purify the majority of stormwater runoff flowing into the Potomac River.

“So, everything that will leave the property at the end of the day will be much slower and much cleaner than the what the storm water is today,” he said.

The Franconia Land Use Committee was absent from the planning commission hearing, where nearly 10 individuals supported the development.

Toward the end of the hearing, Lagana praised EYA for its persistence in working with the community to design something he described as “truly remarkable” and “forward-thinking.”

“Working with this coalition of groups and building this broad alliance of people that were engaged in this for three and a half years…gave you the type of design that you needed to have for this site,” Lagana said. “I mean, it really led to the great solution that we have before us today, which I think is just a beautiful site design.”

The commissioner, however, called the actions of the Franconia Land Use Committee members “unbecoming of any appointed body in this county.”

“We reduced the [number of homes] to 100 units, we improved stormwater, we improved [affordable dwelling units] — I mean, the list goes on and on and on and on, and we’re still dealing with these, I think, fictitious problems that kept coming up,” he said. “And I just want to say the amount of frankly, vitriol and hostility personal hostility that was directed at the applicants at some points was absolutely unacceptable.”

The next public hearing on the rezoning application will take place before the Board of Supervisors on March 5, according to the county website.

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A townhome community is proposed at Coppermine Road in McNair (via Fairfax County)

Another bundle of houses is on the path to development in McNair near Herndon.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of a plan on Wednesday (Feb. 7) to build 48 stacked townhouses at the northwest intersection of Coppermine and Centreville Road — potentially revitalizing a swath of land near Dulles International Airport that has sat mostly vacant for around 20 years.

Dranesville District Commissioner John Ulfelder said the proposal creates a positive use for the site, whose only occupant right now is a PNC Bank. The drive-thru bank won’t be affected by the redevelopment, according to the application.

“I think we’ve come to a point with the proposed housing and residential use that [it] is a good use for this site,” Ulfelder said, noting that multiple proposals for the site have fallen through. At one point, Wawa was contemplating the site for a location as well.

The development plan includes an 8-foot-wide asphalt trail connection from a bus shelter on Centreville Road to the existing Merrybrook Valley Stream trail, a dedication of 21 feet of right-of-way along Centreville Road for streetscaping efforts, and designation of 40% of the site as open space.

“We have spent a lot of time trying to think about how to develop and what should and could go on this site, which does some have constraints with respect to the power line, some existing [Resource Protection Area] and the fact that it is at the intersection of two large streets,” said Sara Mariska, a land use attorney for Oden Feldman Pittleman who represented the developer Dulles Center LLC.

The applicant also plans to dedicate 12% of the units as Workforce Dwelling Units for households earning between 70 and 100% of the area median income — a range that Mariska noted was lower than what the county requires.

Dulles Center LLC had previously planned a mixed-use development on the site. The proposal was approved by the county back in 2003 but ultimately didn’t move forward due to market conditions.

The latest plan for townhouses was put on pause last fall after Beacon Hill Missionary Baptist Church — which neighbors the site — raised concerns about storage and the availability of two trailers on the developer’s property. The site’s previous owner gifted the trailers to the church, which currently uses them for a food bank and administrative purposes.

Connell Lee, a representative for the church, told the planning commission that the church is comfortable with the project moving forward after the developer agreed to several proffers committing it to finding a long-term solution for the trailers.

The developer suggested several options, including replacement of the trailers, monetary compensation, or finding another location. An arrangement would likely be finalized before a site plan is processed.

The development plan now goes to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to hold a public hearing on March 19.

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Compass Coffee will limit the travel aisle near Route 29 to one direction of traffic to accommodate its planned drive-thru cafe in West Falls Church (staff photo by Vernon Miles)

Compass Coffee is still weeks, if not months, away from opening its first Fairfax County cafe, but it’s already being warmly welcomed — at least by local planning commissioners.

After a public hearing on Wednesday (Feb. 7), the Fairfax County Planning Commission voted in support of the D.C.-based coffee company’s application to convert a vacated BB&T bank at 7393 Lee Highway (Route 29) in West Falls Church into its second drive-thru restaurant.

Before the unanimous vote, a couple of commissioners admitted that they’re inclined to view Compass Coffee favorably based on their experiences with its existing locations.

The Rosslyn shop is a regular morning stop for Franconia District Commissioner Dan Lagana, who joked that the business may “sort of have an unfair advantage.” After visiting on Tuesday (Feb. 6), Braddock District Commissioner Mary Cortina praised the Fairfax City location for its ambiance and the coupon for a free cup of coffee for first-time patrons.

“It’s a very nice, comfortable place, and people looked like they were settling in for the day,” she observed.

For its new location, Compass Coffee intends to repurpose the 2,552-square-foot bank building in the Shops at West Falls Church as a full-service cafe with two drive-thru aisles — one for in-person orders and one for online and mobile orders. One of the three existing aisles will be closed to traffic so baristas can bring items to vehicles in the online and mobile pick-up lane, according to a staff report.

The drive-thru lanes will accommodate a total of 14 stacked vehicles at a time, more than what’s currently possible on the site. To fit those vehicles on the 0.55-acre property, the coffee shop has proposed limiting the travel aisle closest to Route 29 to westbound traffic.

“The applicant has proposed to install landscape islands, bollards and signage to ensure eastbound travelers recognize this driveway is ‘do not enter’ for eastbound traffic,” county planner Curtis Rowlette told the commission.

The business has also committed to refreshing the trees and shrubs around the building with native, non-invasive plants after “site visits revealed that landscaping was either missing or in poor condition,” according to Rowlette.

At-Large Commissioner Phil Niedzielski-Eichner questioned whether the one-way drive aisle will affected parking. The change will require the replacement of 14 perpendicular parking spaces with four parallel ones, but the restaurant will have 27 spots overall, which Rowlette said meets the county’s standards.

Cortina said she doesn’t anticipate parking will be an issue, since the cafe will be in a strip shopping center that currently has 200 total spaces.

As of late December, Compass Coffee was targeting a spring opening for its West Falls Church shop, Vice President of Marketing Joel Shetterly told FFXnow. With the Board of Supervisors not scheduled to vote on the special exception amendment application until March 19, it’s unclear if that timeline will hold.

Still, Shetterly said at the planning commission hearing that the company is “very excited” to expand into Fairfax County.

“I just wanted to thank everyone for their hard work and all their help on our application over the last year, so we’ve learned a lot,” he told the commission and county staff. “We’re very excited about what lies ahead for us in Fairfax.”

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SevaTruck provides free meals at the Annandale Community Center in March 2023 (courtesy Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services)

A food truck that delivers free meals throughout Fairfax County has encountered nothing but support in its bid to stay long-term at the Lewinsville Center in McLean, county staff recently told the Fairfax County Planning Commission.

The commission gave SevaTruck Foundation another endorsement by recommending after a public hearing on Jan. 24 that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approve a special exception amendment so the nonprofit can continue to operate out of the center, which includes a senior center, adult day care and two child care programs.

“It’s an important program,” Dranesville District Planning Commissioner John Ulfelder said. “People think of McLean, they say, ‘Well, people of McLean don’t need this kind of help.’ The fact is there are people in McLean who need it, as well as other areas that can be served by this…It’s an important service that the county provides to help people that really need it.”

The Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) contracted SevaTruck to make meals for low-income and other vulnerable residents in 2021, according to county planner Zach Fountain. The county board had suspended zoning code provisions preventing temporary uses that could be helpful for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, SevaTruck’s presence in Fairfax County dates back to its arrival in the D.C. area in 2017, when it began providing meals to Title I schools and low-income neighborhoods. With the NCS contract, it got access to the Lewinsville Center’s commercial-sized kitchen, enabling it to expand its capacity and reach, NCS North County Region 3 Assistant Division Director Karen De Mijango said.

Since launching, the nonprofit has served over 380,000 meals in the D.C. area, including more than 85,000 meals in Fairfax County in 2023, according to De Mijango. In addition to providing food at the Lewinsville Center (1613 Great Falls Street), the employee-run food truck and volunteers have visited communities from Herndon to the Route 1 corridor.

There are no plans to further expand the program, but with the county’s emergency status for the pandemic now expired, the nonprofit needs a special exception to keep using the Lewinsville Center’s kitchen, a dining room and a designated parking spot.

SevaTruck operates from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, with two workers and up to two volunteers preparing meals in the kitchen each day.

“I think what we’ve established the last few years with SevaTruck Foundation, it has worked well for us and the senior program and other campus partners,” De Mijango said. “We would like to ensure this resource continues to benefit Fairfax County residents, especially the Title I schools in low-income communities and neighborhoods.” Read More

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A rehabilitation center in Burke wants to expand, and it’s asking Fairfax County to approve its plan.

In an effort to “improve its ability to serve the Northern Virginia area,” the Burke Health and Rehabilitation Center submitted an application to the county on Jan. 16 requesting a rezoning and an amendment that would allow an addition, a statement of justification reads.

The 120-bed facility at 9640 Burke Lake Road offers short and long-term post-surgery care, cardiac and stroke care, and other nursing services. The proposal calls for a roughly 25,000-square-foot addition to the existing facility to accommodate 68 more beds.

“To accomplish this, a rezoning to the R-3 District is requested as the proposed floor area ratio (FAR) is slightly over 0.2,” the statement reads, referring to the size of the new building compared to the size of the lot. “Additionally, the existing special exception approval from 2008 will have to be amended to accommodate the proposed site changes.”

According to the application filed by 9640 Burke Lake Road LLC, the property is governed by a special exception initially approved in 1985 and amended in 1987 and 2008. Currently, the 46,143-square-foot building is zoned for the county’s R-1 district and occupies 7.65 acres with two-story and one-story sections.

The proposed building would be tucked into the “L” formed by the existing building, the statement reads. The rehab center is also seeking 10 additional parking spaces south of the addition.

The center would keep an existing recreational area west of the building, which has a gazebo, a picnic table, benches and trails. Additionally, areas that are in a floodplain, resource protection areas and Environmental Quality Corridors will not be disturbed, according to the application.

The statement of justification also describes the center’s relationship with the adjacent Heatherwood Retirement Community as symbiotic.

“In addition to providing much needed medical and rehab services to the retirement community residents, as needed, the center is also accessed through the retirement community property,” the statement reads.

Next steps include referring the special exception application to the Health Care Advisory Board for a recommendation and report, which will then be given to the Fairfax County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

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A parking lot in McLean (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County is moving forward with updates to its landscaping and screening requirements along streets and parking lots.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission recommended the approval of changes to the ordinance at a meeting on Dec. 6. If fully approved, it would be the first major change to the ordinance in 40 years and could make parking lots greener.

Planning staff proposed the update to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at a land use policy committee meeting back in May.

At the planning commission public hearing, Sara Morgan with the Department of Planning and Zoning, said the introduction of “street frontage landscaping” would require developers to provide a planting strip on private property parallel to a public or private street. Single-family dwellings would be exempted.

“It is on private property. It’s 10-foot wide with one tree for every 30 feet,” Morgan said.

The current ordinance requires trees to be installed at any surface parking lot with 20 or more spaces. The update would expand that requirement to surface lots with 10 or more parking spaces. It would also increase the required tree coverage from 5% to 10% “to address some of the urban heat-island effects and other environmental impacts,” Morgan said.

For parking garages, the new ordinance would establish shade structure requirements. New garages would need to have 10% of their top decks covered with shade.

“The parking structure could be a canopy, a canopy with vegetative roofs, solar collections systems or trees,” Morgan said.

To incentivize the use of solar power, developers that add a solar system on top of a garage would only need to cover 5% of the structure instead of 10%, Morgan added.

The Great Falls Citizens Association raised an objection to the substitution of shade structures as an alternative to natural landscaping.

Morgan said this was included because often, trees planted on top of parking structures do not grow to the extent where they provide adequate shade.

“So, we are looking at ways where we can achieve that shade through the means of possible trees, but also through the canopies or the solar collection systems,” she said.

Other changes in the ordinance include a preference for native tree species as well as environmentally tolerant species. During outreach, the county heard from individuals who wanted more species that have the ability to withstand high heat and high-drought flooding, according to Morgan.

Braddock District Commissioner Mary Cortina proposed amending the ordinance to specify that preference be given to environmentally tolerant species “where appropriate for site conditions.” The commission unanimously approved the amendment.

Cortina praised the timing of the proposed changes, calling it a good decision to follow up the county’s approval this fall of new off-street parking standards

“And I think this decision alone is really going to change how these parking lots look,” she said.

The ordinance will now go to the Board of Supervisors for approval on Jan. 23.

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The potential benefits and challenges of converting commercial properties into housing both emerged during a public hearing last week on a proposal to repurpose the now-vacant Sheraton Tysons Hotel at 8661 Leesburg Pike.

Promising up to 544 new residential units, the project will boost the supply of housing in Tysons with a unique, market-rate affordable option, a representative for developer JBG Tysons Hotel touted at the hearing before the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Thursday (Dec. 14).

Because the development will utilize the existing hotel structure, the majority of units — about 80% — will be smaller-than-average studios, a currently “underrepresented” housing type, according to Walsh Colucci land use attorney Robert Brant. Some one and two-bedroom units will also be included, along with designated workforce dwelling units.

“This is an opportunity to provide diversity in the range of housing. The smaller units, combined with the fact that this is adaptive reuse, will make them also naturally more affordable,” Brant told the commission. “…Folks will be able to have an affordable housing option right here at the doorstep of the Spring Hill Metro station.”

The planning commission recommended that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approve the conceptual development plan, which will amend a plan for the Tysons West neighborhood that was originally adopted in 2013 to allow the hotel-to-residential conversion.

The developer is also seeking to revise a second planned, but unbuilt residential building along Leesburg Pike (Route 7) from a 400-unit, six-story mid-rise to 265 units with five to eight stories and 5,000 square feet of retail. The overall height of 85 feet would stay the same.

The smaller footprint for “Building C” preserves the top portion of the existing hotel parking garage and provides more room for park space, getting Tysons West up to the 3.05 acres of publicly accessible urban park space required by the county.

However, whether that space will actually meet the needs of future residents and surrounding community remains a question mark.

“We would say definitely the applicant has made improvements in terms of the quantity of park space. We remain concerned about the quality and functionality of the park spaces,” Fairfax County Park Authority Assistant Director of Planning and Real Estate Sam Hudson said.

Eight park spaces are proposed for the 16-acre development, mostly pocket parks and urban plazas along Cornerside Boulevard. FCPA staff told the planning commission that not all of the plazas meet the minimum size for a “civic plaza” under the county’s urban parks framework. Read More

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The owner of 8221 Old Courthouse Road is seeking to repurpose the office building as multi-family apartments (via Walter L. Phillips Inc./Fairfax County)

The owner of 8221 Old Courthouse Road has received the Fairfax County Planning Commission’s support for its plan to convert the 1980s-era Tysons office building into multi-family housing.

The proposal filed by 8221 Old Courthouse Road LC — an affiliate of residential developer Dittmar Company — seeks to repurpose the existing, three-story building as one and two-bedroom rental apartments. Up to 55 units are planned, including six workforce dwelling units.

While the conversion won’t alter the building’s exterior, it will replace approximately 90 surface parking spaces with a publicly accessible, 7,840 square-foot pocket park along Old Courthouse Road and a private, 8,400-square-foot outdoor amenity space for residents on the property’s eastern side, which abuts an Extended Stay America hotel.

The developer has also agreed to update Old Courthouse and Lord Fairfax Road to the west with expanded sidewalks and landscaping panels, along with high-visibility crosswalks and new curb ramps at the intersection.

“The applicant — again the long-term owner of this building — is very excited to be looking forward, turning the page, turning to the next chapter in this building’s life cycle,” said Robert Brandt, the applicant’s representative at the planning commission’s Dec. 6 public hearing. “We think this is an excellent opportunity to convert it and add some additional housing here on this site and in Tysons.”

The elimination of more than half of the 2-acre site’s parking took center stage at the hearing, which concluded with the commission unanimously recommending that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approve the application.

Though no public speakers attended the hearing, several community members sent written comments to express concern that the project will create parking and traffic issues, particularly for Freedom Hill Elementary School to the south, according to Providence District Commissioner Jeremy Hancock.

Reserved for residents and their guests, the 66 parking spots that will be provided meet the county’s current minimum requirements for the Planned Tysons Corner (PTC) Urban District, which the developer has opted into, Brandt told the commission. New, generally reduced off-street parking standards that the Board of Supervisors adopted in September won’t take effect until Jan. 1.

“We are not requesting a parking reduction, and the applicant and staff, I believe, are comfortable with the amount of parking that we are providing,” Brandt said.

He noted that the property owner intends to deliver the 66 parking spaces even if the number of apartment units decreases as the design gets refined. An additional eight spots will be added off-site through striping on Lord Fairfax Road.

According to Brandt, converting the office building into housing will decrease traffic around the site by 207 daily trips on average. Parents will also no longer have to compete with commuting workers when driving their kids to and from school.

Hancock, however, suggested more could be done to try to mitigate traffic during those pick-up and drop-off times, especially while the apartment building is under construction.

“There really is only that one entrance there [to Freedom Hill Elementary],” he said. “I hope it’s acceptable to you that we continue to work on that and maybe address some of the concerns that were raised so we’re increasing the impact on those particular times in school.”

Brandt agreed that there’s “an opportunity to continue that discussion” before the application goes before the Board of Supervisors, which doesn’t have a public hearing scheduled yet.

Planning Commission Chairman Phil Niedzielski-Eichner, an at-large member who previously represented Providence District, called the application “a remarkable improvement” over what the developer initially brought to the county in February.

“The reduction in the impervious surface and expansion of the open space, particularly along the roadway…will add to the value of the neighborhood,” Niedzielski-Eichner said, “because it’s an amenity that will likely be replicated if other buildings in the area have the same ability to be converted. I suspect that’s going to happen, and I think that can only benefit the area.”

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A townhome community is proposed at Coppermine Road in McNair (via Fairfax County)

Updated at 3:15 p.m. on 11/17/2023The Fairfax County Planning Commission deferred the Dulles Center application indefinitely on Wednesday (Nov. 15) due to “some issues that came up at the last minute.”

A legal representative for the developer didn’t detail what those issues were but confirmed that they supported the move and would bring the plan back to the commission once the issues were resolved.

Earlier: A residential development proposed for a site in McNair, the area south of Herndon, is headed to the Fairfax County Planning Commission.

Developer Dulles Center LLC is seeking the county’s permission to build 48 stacked townhouses at the intersection of Coppermine and Centreville Road — reversing a previously approved plan for mixed-use development, including commercial, office and hotel uses.

The planning commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal today (Wednesday) during its meeting at 7:30 p.m.

A bank currently on the site at 13490 Coppermine Road near the Village Center at Dulles would remain.

According to a development plan submitted in March 2022 and last updated in October, the townhouses would be distributed over 4.7 acres and across seven separate rows of units.

While the project doesn’t fall into the county’s affordable housing program, the developer has agreed to sell 12% of the townhouses as workforce dwelling units, which will be targeted at households earning 70%, 80% and 100% of the area median income, according to a Nov. 1 county staff report.

The site contains environmentally sensitive areas and a Resource Protection Area (RPA) linked to the Horsespun Run watershed.

A proposed 8-foot-wide asphalt trail encroaches slightly on the RPA but can be exempted because it’s considered “passive recreation,” county staff said. The segment will fill a missing portion of the Merrybrook Valley Stream trail, providing a connection to the sidewalk and bus shelter along Centreville Road.

Roughly 1.8 acres of the site is set aside as open space, according to the county. That will include two 0.11-acre recreational areas designated as publicly accessible urban parkland, including a central open lawn with a gazebo and a cornhole/bocce court area and a lawn adjacent to the asphalt trail.

“The application provides a site design that incorporates quality open space, landscaping, amenities, and pedestrian connectivity throughout the site and to the surrounding area,” county staff wrote. “The applicant also proposes to provide protection to the environmentally sensitive areas on-site while also enhancing conditions through invasive species removal and reforestation, where needed.”

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A seven-story apartment building is planned on the site at Isaac Newton Square in Reston (via Fairfax County)

The first of 10 blocks slated to redevelop Isaac Newton Square in Reston is officially moving forward.

At a meeting on Oct. 19, the Fairfax County Planning Commission voted in favor of the project, which includes a seven-story apartment building with 345 units on the northern end of the property at 11410 Isaac Newton Square North.

Commissioners lauded developer APA Properties for their efforts in creating a placemaking neighborhood.

“It’s a really nice application. It looks great architecturally,” Braddock District Commissioner Mary Cortina said.

Hunter Mill District Commissioner John Carter praised the developer and architects for the overall design of the project and the inclusion of significant open space, calling the neighborhood a “great step forward for us and Fairfax County.”

“This is a highly customized project,” Carter said. “We don’t see that often.”

Overall, the development plan calls for 2.8 million square feet of new construction, including 2,100 residential units, around 300 hotel rooms, 260,000 square feet of office space and nearly 69,000 square feet of retail space.

The development is bounded to the south by the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, to the west by Hidden Creek Country Club, and to the east by Wiehle Avenue.

Andrew Painter, the developer’s land use attorney, said the approval of the first block of development is “an important step in realizing the vision of a redeveloped Isaac Newtown Square.”

The development is surrounded by a frame of willow oak trees and was first approved in 2019 as a new mixed-use residential neighborhood.

A hiccup on the inclusion of additional low impact development measures (LIDs) — a term for practices like rain gardens that reduce runoff and manage stormwater — was ironed out after the meeting. When site planning begins, the developer has agreed to see if there are more ways to incorporate LIDs in the project.

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