The potential expansion of Tall Oaks Assisted Living Facility’s parking lot has taken another step.

After earning conceptual approval from the Reston Association Design Review Board on April 20, the facility’s proposed parking lot expansion on North Shore Drive has now gotten a recommendation from Fairfax County’s planning department.

Released on May 5, the staff report includes some conditions but supports the overall expansion plan.

“The applicant has satisfactorily demonstrated to staff that the proposed parking will sufficiently meet the parking needs of the facility and has minimized impact to the surrounding area,” the staff report said.

The staff conditions include providing three secure bicycle racks within 200 yards of the building’s front entrance and pre-wiring 2% of the proposed parking spaces for electric vehicle charging stations.

Tall Oaks Assisted Living currently has 44 parking spaces, which matched the requirements of a facility of its size when it was constructed in 1988. However, with 152 beds and 48 employees, it does not meet the county’s current zoning requirement of one parking space for every three beds and one space per employee.

The county’s current regulations require 99 parking spaces for a facility of this size, so Tall Oaks has applied for a waiver to reduce that number to 73 spaces.

The plan for the expanded lot includes five tandem spaces, 12 spaces at the front of the building, 54 spaces along the southern and western edges of the site, and seven spaces at the rear of the building.

“In staff’s opinion, the 99 required parking spaces could create unwanted environmental impacts and would encroach on existing conservation easements,” the staff report said.

The proposal’s environmental impact was a primary concern of RA’s Design Review Board. Tall Oaks estimates it would need to remove 66 trees and 95 shrubs, while only proposing to plant 17 new trees.

The staff report, however, states that the proposed parking layout “will not impact the existing trees.” It further details that a mix of canopy and understory trees, as well as shrubs, are proposed to screen and buffer the site.

“The design now includes one row of parking and a 12-foot wide buffer area between the building and parking area to mitigate noise and light impacts on adjacent units,” the staff report said. “Additionally, the applicant is proposing a mix of deciduous understory and canopy trees that, in combination with the natural topography of the site, will reduce the light impact to the adjacent townhouse community.”

The Fairfax County Planning Commission is slated to host a public hearing and vote on the expansion of Tall Oaks’ parking lot expansion on May 19.

Photo via Google Maps

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The Reston Association Design Review Board has given a tentative thumbs up to Tall Oaks Assisted Living’s plans to expand its parking lot on North Shore Drive.

The board voted 4-1 with one abstention on Tuesday (April 20) to give conceptual approval to the assisted living facility’s proposal to add 29 new parking spaces to the 44-space lot, even as members lamented the anticipated loss of landscaping and the trees that give Tall Oaks its name.

Board architect Michael Wood voted against Tall Oaks’ request for conceptual approval, saying that he understands the facility’s need for additional parking but wishes it could be achieved without such a significant environmental impact.

“That’s some really nice trees and landscaping that go along the edge of the facility right now, so it’s a little bit of a shame,” Wood said. “…If it wasn’t so close to neighbors, it maybe wouldn’t be an issue, [or] if it wasn’t impacting the trail…But it is doing all that stuff.”

Built in 1988, Tall Oaks Assisted Living currently hosts 152 beds with 48 staff members on site at a given time, but it still only has 44 parking spaces.

In recent years, the facility utilized surplus parking at the adjacent Tall Oaks Village Center, but that is no longer an option, thanks to ongoing construction on a long-gestating redevelopment of the shopping center.

Land use attorney Sara Mariska says that Tall Oaks Assisted Living reached an agreement for a parking license with developer Stanley Martin, which agreed to provide 12 spaces on the redeveloped village center lot. However, Tall Oaks would not have 24-hour access, and that would ultimately not be enough spots to accommodate the facility’s needs.

Those 12 spaces have also not yet been constructed, noted John Albert, the development and project management director for Coordinated Services Management, which operates Tall Oaks Assisted Living.

In comparison, the assisted living facility’s proposal would bring its parking lot up to 68 total spaces, with 10 of the 29 new spots envisioned as tandem spaces.

“We’re struggling as a business right now post-pandemic. Our occupancy level is the lowest it’s ever been, and we’re worried about the viability of an ongoing business,” Albert said. “This is something we really didn’t want to do, but we did a parking study, and we really do need every space that’s on this plan right now.”

Tall Oaks Assisted Living representatives said that they are “very sensitive” to the concerns raised by the community and have worked with the adjacent residential neighborhoods to mitigate the impact of their proposal as much as possible.

In addition to reconfiguring the parking lot design to preserve some trees in a section of the property line most in need of buffering, the assisted living center’s request for additional parking is more modest than the 99 spaces that Fairfax County’s zoning ordinance requires for a facility of its size.

“We are requesting a pretty sizable reduction because we do not want to pave over this parking lot,” Mariska said. “We want to constrain our impact as much as we can, and we are requesting only the spaces that we would need for the facility to remain viable.”

Even with those adjustments, however, Tall Oaks still anticipates removing 66 trees and 95 shrubs, and it is only proposing to plant 17 new trees.

Michael Byrne, secretary of the Villa de Espana Cluster Association, expressed sympathy for the assisted living center’s situation, but said it will be difficult for his neighborhood to lose another stand of trees go after they already had a canopy removed by the Tall Oaks Village Center redevelopment.

“Our concerns are obviously losing our tall oaks, what is essentially the beauty of our natural environment, and also what it brings to the drainage problem,” he said. “The trees absorbing water, we don’t have a lot of drainage problems in that section of our quadrant.”

The design review board’s vote this week gave approval to the conceptual plan presented by Tall Oaks Assisted Living, but the applicant will need to return to get approval of its final design, including details about bicycle racks, a proposed retaining wall, and other elements that are still being refined.

The request for additional parking is slated to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission for a public hearing and vote at 7:30 p.m. on May 19.

Images via Google Maps, Reston Association

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Isaac Newton Square could shed almost 300 parking spaces in its metamorphosis from office park to mixed-use development.

In a final development plan submitted to Fairfax County on March 18, APA Properties proposes eliminating 299 parking spaces that currently serve three buildings it plans to remove from the property.

The buildings up for removal include office buildings at 11440 and 11410 Isaac Newton Square North as well as 1928 Isaac Newton Square, which houses Reston Montessori School. The three structures collectively require 5o7 parking spaces, according to the development plan, which has not yet been accepted by the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning.

“299 spaces to be removed is less than 507 spaces required for the buildings to be removed, therefore there is no impact to the parking requirement,” APA says in its plan for the first phase of roads for the development.

The developer stated in its conceptual development plans for the project, which was approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 15, 2019, that the site will feature 4,063 parking spaces — 3,920 garage spaces and 143 surface spaces — the minimum amount required for what it is envisioning.

In addition to 2,100 residential units, about 300 of which will be hotel rooms, the Isaac Newton Square redevelopment will contain 260,000 square feet of office, around 69,000 square feet of retail space, and a synthetic turf athletic field.

The submitted final development plan also provides a closer look at the new grid of streets that APA is contemplating for the 15.3-acre northern section of the site. The map shows the addition of two private roads — Center Street and Isaac Newton Square East — extending north perpendicular to the existing street of Isaac Newton Square North.

Isaac Newton Square South is expected to be the only public road on the property, but APA says in its proffer statement that “a public access easement…will be recorded over all private streets and associated sidewalks internal to the development.”

The developer’s proposed road and infrastructure improvements also include a proposed 10-foot-wide asphalt trail along Wiehle Avenue that it says will satisfy Fairfax County’s countywide trails plan, which calls for a major paved trail on Wiehle.

Images via Andrew Painter, APA Properties/Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning

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Eight Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Service infrastructure projects have received awards from the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the American Public Works Association.

Five of those projects were named “project of the year” in their respective categories, including the renovations done at the Reston Community Center Aquatics Facility and the Innovation Center Metro Station parking garage in Herndon.

Three other projects were named as “honorable mentions.”

DPWES received more accolades from APWA than any other municipality in the Mid-Atlantic Chapter.

“Having Mid-Atlantic APWA recognize the work of DPWES and our partners with these awards acknowledges the excellence in the building and enhancement of the county’s infrastructure,” said DPWES Assistant Director Juan Reyes.

Renovations at RCC’s Aquatic Facility (Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center) were completed early last year. They included the installation of a new lap pool, warm water pool, zero entry pool with water features, mosaic artwork, updating ADA accessibility, and a new roof.

In total, the project cost about $5 million.

The work earned the department an award for “project of the year” for structures costing between $5 million and $25 million.

The parking garage at the Innovation Center Metro Station was also completed in the first quarter of 2020 and was a more expensive project.

Costing $52 million, the eight-level, 2,100 space parking garage was built with the intention of serving the Innovation Center Metro Station in Herndon. That station is part of Silver Line Phase 2 which is not yet operating due to delays.

The project actually came about 10% under budget despite the garage having problems with it “sinking” back in 2018.

It won “project of the year” for structures costing between $25 to $75 million.

Other Fairfax County projects to win awards include Scott’s Run Trail in McLean, a sewer emergency construction project at Backlick Run in Springfield, and Tertiary filter rehabilitation project at the pollution control plant in Lorton.

Photo courtesy of Fairfax County

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Tall Oaks Assisted Living at 2052 North Shore Drive in Reston is looking to add more parking, but the request won’t go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission until late March.

The proposal is to add 29 new parking spots at the 33-year-old assisted living center.

The ask was to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission next week with a scheduled public hearing. However, the applicant has requested a deferral, planning commission staff confirms. This is to give the assisted living center time to address community concerns and give the planning commission to review any changes.

The commission will acknowledge the deferral and the new date for the proposal to go before the planning commission will be March 24, county staff told Reston Now. Parking has long been an issue at assisted living facility, so says the application first filed in July.

The facility near the intersection of North Shore Dr. and Wiehle Ave. was originally developed with 44 spots. At the time, that was sufficient, but increasing “care needs of residents” in turn increased staffing levels, according to the application.

Throughout the years, when the parking lot was full, visitors and staff would routinely park at the adjacent Tall Oaks Village Center. As tenants fled the shopping center, parking spaces became more plentiful.

Then, in June 2016, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the redevelopment of the defunct shopping center into a mostly residential development. That is currently under construction after being delayed several times for a variety of reasons.

Due to construction, there’s currently no parking available there for Tall Oaks Assisted Living visitors and staff. The proposal is to increase from 44 parking spots to 73, 10 of which will be tandem parking spots.

The facility has 152 beds and 48 staff. Under strict application of the zoning ordinance, the facility is required to provide 99 parking spots. However, concurrently, the facility is filing a parking reduction request allowing them to be allowed to have 73 spots.

The parking spaces will be developed to not impact the site’s conservation easement and to avoid steep slopes as well as mature vegetation.

Photo via Google Maps

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A 50-member church proposed for 459 Herndon Parkway is nearing approval by the town of Herndon’s planning commission.

In November, Christ Fellowship Church applied for a special exception to take up residence in suites 7 and 8A at a facility owned by Parkway Crossing Condominiums.

A special exception is needed because religious institutions are not allowed in any of the town’s zoning districts. 459 Herndon Parkway lies in the office and light industrial zoning district.

However, parking concerns delayed a vote in December until later this month.

Earlier this week, though, planning commission staff said they’d recommend approving the application, provided certain conditions are met. Many on the commission also seemed to be in agreement that once the special exception is up for a vote, they’d vote to approve.

Concerns were brought up that discussion of parking logistics should actually be between the church and the condo association, rather than be subjected to a debate during the town’s planning commission meeting.

In mid-November, the condo’s Board of Directors voted to begin a study to explore ways to relax parking restrictions on first-floor condo units. This could open up more spots for the church.

That study is ongoing, according to the planning commission staff.

As for certain conditions, prohibiting daycare or school use and limiting the attendees to 44 at a time are the recommendations of the staff.

The church would be allowed to submit separate special exception applications for both of these in the future.

Christ Fellowship Church has been part of Herndon for almost 30 years and was worshipping at Arts Herndon, a local art gallery 750 Center Street. Currently, they are worshipping virtually.

The church has approximately 50 members, no full-time staff, and one part-time staff.

Photo via the handout/Town of Herndon Planning Commission 

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors gave the county’s transportation department permission this week to start work on plans for managed curbside parking in Tysons and Reston.

Whether the plan includes paid parking, time-limited parking, designated commercial vehicle parking, or some combination, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation will need at least a year to draw one up for the Board of Supervisors to review, staff said during a board transportation committee meeting on Tuesday.

The incremental step forward comes after professional traffic engineers released their findings from a two-year study that analyzed current parking habits in Tysons’ urban center and Reston’s transit station areas as well as potential options to manage parking.

“Currently in the county, we have a very limited toolbox of parking restrictions that can be implemented by either the Board or VDOT,” FCDOT Section Chief Neil Freschman said. “Generally, most on-street parking on public roadways is uncontrolled.”

The study found that public on-street parking in Reston is incredibly limited.

Parking is available on just 6% of the 15 miles of public curb space surrounding the Wiehle-Reston East, Reston Town Center, and Herndon Metrorail stations, FCDOT Senior Transportation Planner Henri Stein McCartney said.

“We found 211 total public on-street spaces within the study area, which is pretty low,” she said. “Most parking is on private streets, which we don’t manage.”

Comparatively, Tysons had more parking. Staff found 1,272 spaces along 22 miles — or 29% — of curb space on the roadways surrounding the Greensboro, Springhill, Tysons, and McLean Metro stations.

However, parking in Tysons suffers from other problems, including cars parked in “No Parking” zones and travel lanes, along with large commercial vehicles that overstay their welcome.

“Some of these vehicles are reportedly parking for days or weeks without moving,” McCartney said. “Our parking staff has received multiple complaints from Tysons businesses about commercial vehicles that are parking long-term near their building, so we know this is an issue.”

Transportation Committee Vice-Chair Kathy Smith, who represents Sully District, told Tysons Reporter that commercial vehicles parking for extended periods is a county-wide issue.

“I think it’s good that staff is looking into how to balance people’s ability to get into businesses and getting more turnover,” Smith said. “Everybody would agree you don’t want commercial vehicles taking up space for days.”

This parking plan is being developed alongside changes to the street grid in Tysons and Reston, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn told Tysons Reporter. In some cases, parking policies will be developed for streets that do not yet exist, but have been incorporated into the two communities’ comprehensive plans to be more transit-oriented.

The management plan should encourage parking spot turnover to ensure that these future streets near transit stations, which are lined with mixed-use properties, do not become commuter lots, he said.

However, managed parking in Reston’s transit areas will have to overcome the controversy that Boston Properties ignited when the property manager introduced and later modified paid parking at the Reston Town Center.

“The number one lesson is, don’t make all your streets private,” Alcorn said. “We have an awful lot of private streets. What we’ve learned is that the public doesn’t have any say — it is up to the private street owner.”

While private streets make planning events more flexible, Alcorn says the 2017 flare-up, which focused mostly on the garage parking, could also be attributed in part to community members not having a say.

For the most part, though, what FCDOT is working on “is apples and oranges” compared to the RTC, he said.

Image via Fairfax County

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When the Silver Line suspends rail service west of Ballston this summer, drivers can use free parking at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station.

Fairfax County announced yesterday that the station will have free parking while work is underway to connect the Silver Line Phase II stations, which will run from Reston to Ashburn.

Metro wasn’t originally planning to add the upcoming Silver Line stations, but due to lower ridership, Metro decided to add the Silver Line work to its summer closure of the Orange Line in parts of Northern Virginia.

“The closures begin Memorial Day weekend 2020 and are expected to continue through the fall,” according to the county.

Photo by Chuck Samuelson/Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted in favor of deferring a decision on a request to reduce parking at a major mixed-use project near the future Reston Town Center Metro Station.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn (D) motioned that the board postpone a decision on the proposal by Boston Properties to a later date.

“Considering the history of Boston Properties and parking in Reston, I deferred the decision on Reston Gateway in order to get more information on Boston Properties’ assumptions on parking needs at Reston Gateway,” Alcorn wrote in statement to Reston Now.

The developer is seeking to provide 1,663 fewer parking spaces than what was already approved for Reston Gateway, a mixed-use development currently under construction between Reston Town Center Metro Station and RTC.

Alcorn said that he wants to take a closer look at the assumptions Boston Properties used to guide its decision. For example, the company assumes that “residents and visitors to the development will require parking at rates no higher than similarly-located transit-oriented development in Arlington,” he said.

Overall, the proposal aims to reduce parking by 20 percent. Residential parking for the 2,010 units planned on the site would take the biggest hit, with an average reduction of 38 percent.

So far, county staff backed Boston Properties’ proposal, which it says is acceptable because of the site’s proximity to the Metro station and the need to reduce parking demand by encouraging other modes of transportation.

Reston Gateway includes nine buildings spread over 33 acres. The first phase of the project — which includes office space anchored by Fannie Mae — is currently under construction.

Handout via Fairfax County Government

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Boston Properties is looking to reduce the amount of parking at Reston Gateway, a mixed-use project currently under construction between the Reston Town Center Metro Station and RTC.

The company wants to provide 1,663 fewer parking spaces than previously approved plans outlined. The move — which would parking by 20 percent — is being considered because of the project’s proximity to the future RTC Metro Station. Parking for residential units would drop by an average of 38 percent. The company also wants to drop any requirement for parking in the lodging component of the hotel on the site.

The county’s planning staff approved the request, noting that the mixed-use center is near a Metro Station where mass transit should be encouraged via parking reductions:

The character of high-density, mixed-use development, both at the subject site and surrounding neighborhoods, and the proximity to rail and other forms of transit, provides opportunities to reduce parking demand. Analysis of multi-family development adjacent to Metro stations has shown that residents of this type of housing are less likely to own one or more personal vehicles. The availability of Metrorail and other transportation options at the site will encourage people from other neighborhoods and communities to travel to the redevelopment area for work and leisure activities using alternative modes other than their personal vehicle. Collectively, these support the applicant’s proposal for this parking reduction based on the proximity of mass transit.

The proposal heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a vote on March 10.

The project includes nine blocks with nine buildings spread over 33 acres. It’s located on the north side of Sunset Hills Road between Town Center Parkway and Reston Parkway. Four office buildings, three residential buildings with 2,010 units, two hotels and more than 162,000-square-foot in retail and restaurants, are planned on the site.

Crews are working on the first phase of construction, which includes four new buildings at the intersection fo Sunset Hills and Town Center Parkway. Fannie Mae plans to lease about 850,000 square feet of office space at the site.

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After brief changes to parking over Thanksgiving break, free holiday garage parking will return to Reston Town Center this month.

Although garage parking is free on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends, changes are planned for the holiday season. Typically, the first hour of parking is free on weekdays.

From Dec. 21 through New Year’s Day, garage parking will be free.

Parking was also free from Nov. 23 through Sunday (Dec. 1), in addition to the following holidays:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • President’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veteran’s Day

File photo

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Floodwaters at the Reston North Park and Ride have receded, leaving little damage at the site where water pooled up to the windshields’ of cars yesterday (July 8).

A spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation told Reston Now that there appears to be no damage to the pavement or drains, which were simply overwhelmed with the “massive amount of water.”

“We’re focusing on other areas,” Ellen Kamilakis said. “There are other heavily devastated areas in the county.”

Crews are currently on-site throughout the county to assess damages.

In early September 2011, floodwaters caused major damage at the Reston Park and Ride. Several vehicles were damaged during that storm.

The lot is located at the corner of Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue.

Photo via AlphaPupObie/Twitter

 

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Verizon Wireless hopes to continue using a portion of Fox Mill Fire Station’s parking lot for a telecommunications facility.

The five-year lease, which could be extended for up to 25 years, would bring $30,000 to the county’s coffers in the lease’s first year. Annual payments would increase by 2.5 percent each year.

County officials do not expect that the company’s use of the parking lot will impact the station’s operations. The parking lot already has a monopole that was built by Cox Cable in the early 1980s.

The company built a fenced compound to store equipment needed to serve cable television subscribers and facilitate a relay station in the first responders’ emergency network.

In 1998, Verizon expanded Cox Cable’s compound by adding an additional 264 square feet. That lease ended last September.

Revenues collected from the lease would go to the county’s general fund.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the matter on Tuesday, May 21.

Map via handout/Fairfax County Government

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A parking dispute turned violent in Reston last week, police said.

Two people got into an argument in the parking lot of McDonalds at 11265 Roger Bacon Drive on April 11 at around 9:37 a.m., according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

“The victim got out of their car and tried to block the other car from leaving by standing in front of it.  The driver allegedly struck the victim in the leg with his car and left the scene,” FCPD said.

No injuries were reported and the police are treating the incident as an assault. It’s unclear if the driver was charged.

In other news, the Fairfax County Police Department’s Reston District Station reported the following incidents in recent days:

LARCENIES:

2200 block of Centreville Road, purse from location

2200 block of Centreville Road, purse from location

1800 block of Cameron Glen Drive, property from vehicle

9800 block of Faust Drive, license plate from vehicle

12100 block of Sunset Hills Road, merchandise from business

STOLEN VEHICLES:

None reported

File photo

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A new rowing-focused studio in D.C. is eyeing Reston Town Center for its next location.

DC Row’s General Manager Brittany Brunch told Reston Now that the low-impact, full-body workout DC Row offers will be an appealing option for people working high-stress jobs, in addition to people already focused on exercise. “Northern Virginia generally has a pretty high fitness index,” Brunch said.

Like Reston residents, Reston Town Center has been established for a while, Jordan Newsome, one of the studio’s executives, told Reston Now. “We want to bring something new to them so that they come back out a little bit more [to Reston Town  Center].”

While Newsome and Brunch wouldn’t reveal the Reston location, they did say that locals can expect a pop-up near Reston Town Center before the grand opening.

The Reston location will offer similar classes to the ones currently at the D.C. location (790 Maine Avenue SW). Reston’s DC Row will cater to specialized groups, such as opportunities for corporate businesses to enjoy happy hours and gift bags after the classes and more time slots during the day for moms and pregnant women.

Like the D.C. spot, Brunch and Newsome said they want to get local kids involved. “Rowing is a collegiate sport,” Newsome said. “There are a lot of scholarships that go untouched every year.”

The controversial paid parking at Reston Town Center doesn’t have Newsome too worried.

“We are no stranger to paid parking,” Newsome said as he looked out of the window toward Main Avenue SW “The experience that we offer makes people want to come back, and they kind of seek out a way to get back. For as far as parking in Reston goes, I think it shouldn’t have too much of an effect on our business.”

Brunch added that DC Row is looking into subsidizing parking for customers at the Reston Town Center location.

No matter where DC Row goes, one principle stands out: “We really want to be apart of the community,” Newsome said.

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