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FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions for the City of Austin Development Services Department

I have a question about:

Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) Portal

How do I register/create a new account on the AB+C portal?

You will need an account to process payments on the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal. First-time users can follow these steps to register:

  1. Enter and confirm the email address you want to use for your account.
  2. Enter your personal information. Required fields are marked with a red asterisk (*).
  3. Next you will receive an email from the City of Austin. Enter the PIN from that email and the first and last name you used to register.
  4. Create a password and select a password security reminder question.
  5. You will receive another email from the City of Austin with the subject line “Austin Build + Connect.” This email has instructions on getting your online account connected to your business account. Once the accounts are connected, you will be able to conduct business with the City of Austin through the AB+C portal.

View the complete Austin Build + Connect user manual (PDF).

How can I make a payment online?

NOTE: You can pay for permits and some contractor (plumbing and irrigation only) licensing and registration fees online, if they are linked to your Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) account. 

  1. Log in to your account on the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal.
  2. Click “My Bills” on the left sidebar menu.
  3. Click to select the bill(s) you want to pay. Then click “Pay Selected.”
  4. Review and make sure all the bills you want to pay are selected and click “Pay Now.” This will direct you to Chase to complete your payment. (NOTE: If you close or navigate away from this screen, you will be blocked from making payments for 90 minutes.)
  5. Select a saved payment method or click “New Account” to add one. You may use an electronic check, Escrow, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover.
  6. Enter and double check your payment information, email address and Austin Build + Connect ID (your login).
  7. Click to accept the terms and conditions, and then click “Confirm.” This will direct you to a page with your confirmation number.

View the complete Austin Build + Connect user manual (PDF).
 

How do I upload documents and images to my AB+C portal account?
  1. Log in to your account on the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal.
  2. Select "My Permits/Cases" on the left sidebar menu. Click on the orange permit number link to open the permit.
  3. Scroll past the details and inspections section to the section titled "Application Attachments." 
  4. Select "Choose File" and select the document you want to upload.
  5. Once attached, click "Add Attachment." A message will populate saying the document was uploaded correctly.
  6. Once uploaded, click "Continue."

View the complete Austin Build + Connect user manual (PDF).

What does "queue" mean?

After a permitting application is submitted through the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal, its status displays as “queue” meaning it is in review at the Service Center. A permit tech will review and approve or reject the application. You will receive an email when the review is complete. If the permit is approved, you will be able to pay for the permit in the AB+C portal, under "My Bills." If the permit is rejected, you will receive instructions on how to address the issue.

View the complete Austin Build + Connect user manual (PDF).

Where do I find and edit an incomplete or rejected permit?

NOTE: You can make changes to an incomplete or rejected permit through the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal only if the permit is linked to your AB+C account.

  1. Log in to your account on the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal.
  2. Click to “My Incomplete Applications” on the left sidebar menu. Select “Edit and Continue.”
  3. Fill out the missing information and/or attach the appropriate documentation, then select “Submit for Billing.”
  4. When the application is submitted correctly, the status will change to “queue,” meaning it is being reviewed by a permit specialist.
  5. You will receive an email when the permit is approved. Then you will be able to pay for the permit in the AB+C portal under “My Bills” or “My Permits/Cases.”

View the complete Austin Build + Connect user manual (PDF).

How do I cancel/withdraw an incomplete or pending permit?

NOTE: You can cancel or withdraw a permit through the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal only if (1) the permit is linked to your AB+C account and (2) inspections have not yet started. If inspections have started on your permit, please contact your assigned inspector. 

  1. Log in to your account on the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal.
  2. If your permit status is “application incomplete,” click on “My Incomplete Applications” on the left sidebar menu. Then click “Discard” next to the application you want to cancel.
  3. If your permit status is “queue” or “pending,” click on “My Permits/Cases” on the left sidebar menu. 
  4. Click on the orange permit number link to open the pending permit you want to withdraw.
  5. Click “Permit Change Request.”
  6. Under “Request Type,” select “Request for Withdraw” from the dropdown menu. Add any comments in the box provided. Then click “Submit Request.”
  7. Briefly describe the reason for withdrawal in the box provided. Then click “I agree.”
  8. A request confirmation message will populate on the screen. Click “Done.”

View the complete Austin Build + Connect user manual (PDF).

How do I find final/closed permits?

NOTE: You will only find final/closed permits in the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal that are linked to your AB+C account.

  1. Log in to your account on the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal.
  2. Click “My Permits/Cases” on the left sidebar menu. Click the “Search” button above the list.
  3. Enter the permit/case number at the top of the search form, or the address information at the bottom of the search form. 
  4. If needed, edit the “Start Date” and “End Date” fields. NOTE: They will default to search within the last year. You can change the date range to search for older permits, but the system can only search a span of one year at a time. For example, Start Date: 2015-01-01; End Date: 2016-01-01.
  5. Under “List Permits by Status,” click the checkbox to select “Final.” 
  6. Click “Retrieve” at the bottom of the search form. From the search results, click the orange permit number link to view details of that permit.

View the complete Austin Build + Connect user manual (PDF).

How do I schedule an inspection in the AB+C portal?

NOTE: You can only schedule inspections through the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal for permits that are linked to your AB+C account.

  1. Log in to your account on the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal.
  2. Click “My Inspections” on the left sidebar menu. 
  3. Permits will display with inspections available to be scheduled. Click the checkbox to select the permit you want, and then click “Request Inspections.”
  4. Inspections needed for that permit will display. Click the checkbox to select the inspection you want to schedule. 
  5. Under the “Requested Date” column, use the drop down to pick a day within five days from when you are scheduling the inspection. You can also leave comments/notes for the inspector.  
  6. Click “Request Inspections.” A confirmation message will display when the inspection request is successfully sent.

View the complete Austin Build + Connect user manual (PDF).

How do I cancel an inspection in the AB+C portal?

NOTE: You can only cancel inspections through the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal for permits that are linked to your AB+C account.

  1. Log in to your account on the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal.
  2. Click “My Inspections” on the left sidebar menu. 
  3. Click the checkbox to select the permit you want. Click “Cancel Inspections.”
  4. Select the scheduled inspection(s) you want to cancel, and then click “Cancel Inspections.”

View the complete Austin Build + Connect user manual (PDF).

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Permitting

Do I need a permit for my project?

Unless specifically exempted by the City Code, the City of Austin requires a permit to erect, construct, enlarge, alter, repair, improve, remove, convert, move, or demolish any building or structure within the City’s zoning jurisdiction, or in a Municipal Utility District (MUD) if the consent agreement between the MUD and the City requires a permit. A separate permit is required for each building or structure where work occurs. If the full scope of proposed work is not on the Work Exempt from Building Permits list, then a permit is required. If in doubt, schedule an appointment with Development Services.

Do I need a demolition application/permit?

A Demolition Permit Application is required for total demolitions and partial demolitions that involve more than 50% of a structure’s exterior walls. An Interior Remodel and/or New Construction and Addition application must be submitted for all partial demolitions, including those that involve less than 50% of exterior walls. Visit the Development Services Department’s Demolition & Relocation page to learn more about the Demolition Permit process and requirements.

Do I need a permit to build a fence?

The need for a permit depends on the type of fence and where you are building. The City Code defines two types of fences — an ornamental fence is made up of no more than 25% solid material and uses an open design, while a solid fence is built with more than 25% solid material.

A fence cannot be built in a floodplain hazard area. If you are not sure whether your property is located within a floodplain hazard area, please contact the Watershed Protection Department at 512-974-2843.

An ornamental fence has no additional requirements or height restrictions. 

You do not need a permit to build a solid fence up to eight feet high, if the fence is located on or within the building setback lines or along the line between a residential property and:

  • Property zoned as a commercial or industrial base district;
  • Property used for commercial or industrial use; or
  • An alley that separates a residential use and one of the above.

You also do not need a permit to build a solid fence up to eight feet high along a property line. However, a solid fence between six and eight feet high requires:

  • A consultation with a reviewer at the Service Center; 
  • Written consent from adjacent property owners affected by the fence filed with the building official; and
  • Must also meet at least one of the criteria outlined in City Code 25-2-899 (Section E).
What type of permit(s) do I need, and how do I apply?

The type of permit you need and the application process will depend on the scope of work you are doing and how the property is zoned. Read more about the types of permits the Development Services Department issues. If you still have questions about permits, please call Austin 3-1-1 or schedule an appointment with Development Services.

How can I check the status of a permit or search for a final/completed permit?

You can check the status of any permit online using the Public Search function on the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal. You can search by permit number, case number, or address — there’s no need to log in.

You can also use the Property Profile tool to search for permit information, see aerial images and street views, create custom maps, download data, and run reports detailing information about a specific property.

How do I find my approved plan sets?

You can find instructions on how to obtain approved plan sets on the Building Inspections page.

How do I add a new address for my permit?

Contact the Address Management Services team at addressing@austintexas.gov or 512-974-2797.

How do I submit an Electric Service Planning Application (ESPA), Distributed Generation Planning Application (DGPA), and/or Building Service Planning Application (BSPA)?

Visit Austin Energy’s Electric Service Design & Planning page for more information about the ESPA, DGPA, and BSPA. You can also email AEBSPAESPA@austinenergy.com.

How do I submit a water tap application?

Visit Austin Water’s Tap Sales office webpage for more information on how to submit residential or commercial tap application, or call 512-972-1000 and select Option 3.

How do I permit and activate a Driveway/Sidewalk (DS) permit?How do I remove a Driveway/Sidewalk (DS) permit from my project?

Visit the Austin Transportation Department’s Right of Way Permits webpage or call 512-974-7828. You can also use the Application Request Form to schedule an appointment with ATD.

How do I remove a Driveway/Sidewalk (DS) permit from my project?

Visit the Austin Transportation Department’s Right of Way Permits webpage or call 512-974-7828. You can also use the Application Request Form to schedule an appointment with ATD.

Where can I find the Development and Permitting fee schedules?

View Development and Permitting fee schedules here.

Can the City deny permit applications based on deed restrictions that exist on a property?

The City cannot prevent landowners from developing property based on a deed restriction. If a building permit application complies with the Land Development Code, the City must approve the application. However, the City requires applicants to acknowledge their responsibility to check and accept responsibility for property-specific requirements, such as deed restrictions or restrictive covenants. 

Read more about deed restrictions and City zoning laws.

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Building Plan Review - Residential & Commercial

Is a building plan review required for my project?

A building plan review is required for most residential and commercial permits, with a few exceptions:

  • Work exempt from building permits (NOTE: The full scope of proposed work must be exempt.)
  • Residential express permits
  • Commercial express permits, if you are not expanding the size of a building
  • Complete demolitions on residential properties only

If in doubt, schedule an appointment with Development Services.

How do I contact my reviewer?

Review staff will be assigned after the application has been paid and processed, which can take a couple of days. After your reviewer is assigned, you can find contact information one of three ways:

  • Your reviewer’s contact information will be printed on the Master Comment Report that is provided to the assigned applicant.
  • When you check your project in Public Search on Austin Build + Connect (AB+C), you can find the reviewer’s name and phone number in the Permit Details under "Process And Notes".
  • You also can call Austin 3-1-1 (512-974-2000 outside the city limits) and request the reviewer’s contact information and/or to be connected to the reviewer.
How long do building plan reviews take? How long does my update/revision take?

Due to unusually high volume, it is taking longer than usual for the Development Services Department team to respond to inquiries and to process Building Plan Review applications. For current estimated timelines for your application, please visit the Residential or Commercial Building Plan Review pages. Keep in mind that this timeframe does not include other stages of the process, including intake.

To get updates on processing timelines and other Development Services news delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to Important Updates.

What is the difference between a major and minor revision?

Residential Review

Minor revisions are administrative changes that do not require graphic exhibits. Major changes require a submission of revised plans or modified calculations and incur a major revision fee.

Commercial Review

Minor revisions are limited to changes that affect only one review discipline or deferred submittals. Minor revisions cannot increase square footage or include a change of use.

What does “to scale” mean, and why is it required?

A scaled drawing is one that shows the object in a reduced or enlarged form, maintaining accurate size comparisons, which can be measured with a common architectural or engineering scale. For example, a common scale for floor plans is 1/4 inch = 1 foot.

Our review staff uses both architectural and engineering scales to measure plans for code compliance. If staff cannot verify a measurement, the plan review process will be delayed.

What is impervious cover?

Impervious cover is any type of surface that does not absorb rainfall. The ratio of impervious cover allowed on a property depends on the zoning designation. The calculation includes surfaces such as walkways, driveways, rooftops, parking areas and some decks. It does not include paving in the public right-of-way (e.g., sidewalks) or water features (e.g., ponds or fountains).

Access ramps used for the disabled can be exempted if they meet the requirements of Section 25-8-63(C)(10) of the Land Development Code.

A reviewer can help you calculate your impervious cover, or you can do it yourself using this Building and Impervious Cover Calculation Aid spreadsheet.

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Inspections

What is the process for inspections?

View flowcharts illustrating the processes for commercial and residential inspections.

How do I find and/or contact my assigned building inspector?

You can find the name and contact information of your assigned inspector using the Inspector Territories interactive map. Enter the address where the work is taking place in the search bar and press Enter.

If you already know your inspector’s name, you can find his/her contact information on the Building Inspector Phone List. Please note that inspectors may not answer phone calls right away because they are conducting inspections or driving. If your inspector does not pick up when you call, please consider sending a text message or email. You may leave a voicemail with your name, phone number, and the purpose of your call, but remember that mailboxes fill up quickly — a text message or email is preferred.

How do I find and/or contact my assigned tree and environmental inspector?

You can find the name and contact information of your assigned tree and environmental inspector using the interactive maps on our Environmental Inspections webpage. This page also includes a list of inspectors’ phone numbers by inspection area.

How do I schedule a building inspection?

You can schedule an inspection online using the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal, if the permit is linked to your AB+C account, or by phone using your assigned PIN, which is assigned to your permit. Detailed directions can be found on our Building Inspections page.

Note: Although inspections are usually performed within 24 hours after scheduling, an inspector's workload can delay a scheduled inspection until the next business day, up to 48 hours after scheduling.

What is required for my inspection?

View Residential Inspection Checklists on the Residential Plan Review webpage. View Commercial Inspection Checklists on the Commercial Plan Review webpage.

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Zoning & Land Use

How do I know the zoning for my property?

Zoning applies to properties within the City of Austin Full Purpose and Limited Purpose Jurisdictions. If the property is located within these jurisdictions, use the Property Profile online tool to determine the zoning for a specific property.

  1. Click on the Address Search house house icon icon at the top of the page.
  2. Enter the address in the Address Search field. Click Next.
  3. The page will populate with information about the property. In the first section, click on the Zoning Profile link. This will take you to the Zoning Profile Report, which will tell you your zoning district and zoning overlays (such as a Neighborhood Plan), and Zoning Ordinance (if zoned after 2000).
How do I determine what I can do with my property?

If you have determined what you want to build, staff can help you determine which regulations apply. Schedule an appointment with Development Services online.

Homeowners and small business owners who are not sure where to start can also contact the Development Process Team at 512-974-1040 or developmentprocessteam@austintexas.gov

How do I file a zoning application?

Zoning applications are managed by the City’s Housing and Planning Department.

What is a Certificate of Occupancy and how do I get one?

A Certificate of Occupancy proves that a structure is habitable based on its legal use and type of property and meets all housing and building codes. For new construction or major renovations, a Certificate of Occupancy will be provided upon a successful final inspection. For existing properties, visit our Certificate of Occupancy page.

What is the occupant load for my business?

Typically, the occupant load is listed on your Occupant Load Card or Certificate of Occupancy. If you do not have one of these, you can use our Occupant Load Calculator to estimate your capacity.

Who should I contact if I have questions about my property’s zoning or Certificate of Occupancy?

For questions about zoning or to verify zoning for a property, contact the Development Assistance Center or schedule an appointment with Development Services.

For questions about a Certificate of Occupancy, contact the Building Inspections Division of the Development Services Department at 3-1-1 or dsdcertificateofoccupancy@austintexas.gov.

What are the regulations and limitations for a home business?

A home business must comply with the requirements of section 25-2-900 of the Austin City Code. The following are prohibited as home business:

  • Animal hospitals, animal breeding
  • Clinics, hospitals
  • Hospital services
  • Contractor yards
  • Dance studios
  • Scrap and salvage services
  • Massage parlors (does not apply to state-licensed massage therapists)
  • Restaurants
  • Cocktail lounges
  • Rental outlets
  • Equipment sales
  • Adult-oriented businesses
  • Recycling centers
  • Drop-off recycling collection facilities
  • An activity requiring an H-occupancy under Chapter 25-12, Article 1, the City Building Code (i.e., involves the manufacturing, processing, generation or storage of materials that constitute a physical or health hazard)
  • Automotive repair services
  • Businesses involving the repair of any type of internal combustion engine, including equipment repair services

For information about Residential Tours and Garage Sales, see sections 25-2-902 and 25-2-903 of the Land Development Code.

How do I register my online business that will operate out of my home?

The City of Austin’s Small Business Division offers free coaching and other services to help you select and operate your business according to current requirements.

Do I need to submit a historic review application?

If the property where the work is taking place is a historic landmark, a contributing property in a historic district, or in a National Register district, you must submit a historic review application for any of the following:

  • Exterior alterations
  • Additions
  • Permanent site work
  • Signs
  • Stand-alone, ground-up new construction

You can use the Historic Property Viewer to find out if a property is a historic landmark, located in a locally designated historic district, or in a National Register district. More information is available from the Historic Preservation Office.

How can I find the utility connection history for an address?

Use the City’s Utilities Customer Archive to find the history of utility connections at a specific address. You may need this information if you are completing an application for a Land Status Determination or platting exemption.

How do I submit a Land Status Determination application?

A Land Status Determination is for an exception from platting requirements. Property owners can use the Land Status Determination Wizard to determine if they qualify. To obtain an official land status determination, a complete application must be submitted through the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C)  portal.

Do City zoning laws and proposed zoning changes override existing deed restrictions on development?

No, deed restrictions are a civil matter enforced by the parties named in the restriction, such as a property owners’ association or a property owner. The Land Development Code does not affect the enforceability of deed restrictions.

Read more about deed restrictions and City zoning laws.

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Contractors, Registrations & Trade Permits

How do I register as a new contractor or renew my registration with the City of Austin?

You can use the Service Center Request Form to register as a new contractor/homeowner or renew your registration with the City of Austin. NOTE: You will need to complete, sign and upload a Letter of Authorization (PDF) to complete your registration.

How do I update my trade registration with the State of Texas?

Below are links and contact phone numbers you can use to apply for, update or renew your registration with the State of Texas.

Plumbers -  512-936-5200

Electricians -  512-463-6599

A/C & Refrigeration Contractors -  512-463-6599

Irrigation Professionals -  512-239-6133

Fire Industry - 512-676-6800

How do I select a contractor?

When choosing a contractor for your project, be sure to look for a licensed contractor who will go through the proper permitting process with the City of Austin. Read our tips on selecting a contractor.

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Trees & Tree Preservation

What is a protected tree?

A protected tree has a diameter of 19 inches or more, at a point measured 4 feet, 6 inches above the ground. Within the City of Austin, a permit is required to remove a protected tree, except as otherwise provided in Section 25-8-621 of the City Code. Read the complete Protected Tree Regulations.

What is a heritage tree?

A heritage tree has a diameter of 24 inches or more, at a point measured 4 feet, 6 inches above the ground, and is one of the following species:

  • Ash, Texas
  • Cypress, Bald
  • Elm, American
  • Elm, Cedar
  • Madrone, Texas
  • Maple, Bigtooth
  • All Oaks
  • Pecan
  • Walnut, Arizona
  • Walnut, Eastern Black

Removal of a heritage tree is prohibited, except as provided under Section 25-8-641 of the City Code. Read the complete Heritage Tree Regulations.

How do I measure a tree?

You can determine a tree’s size (and, therefore, whether it is protected) by measuring the tree trunk at a point 4 feet, 6 inches above the ground. This is commonly known as diameter at breast height (DBH). The diagram below can help you find the correct place on the tree trunk to measure.

Black and white diagram showing how to measure tree trunk

What is the review process for a tree removal permit?

When the development of a residential property contains a protected tree, the tree review will occur simultaneously with the residential building plan. The tree permit will accompany the residential building permit.

When a protected tree is not development-related but impacted by utility issues, disease or other conditions, a Tree Ordinance Review Application is required.

Learn more about the tree review and application submittal process.

What is the purpose of a tree survey tag?

A tree survey tag (generally an aluminum circular or rectangular label attached to the tree trunk) assigns a specific identification number to a tree for a site plan or survey. It does not mean the tree is marked to be saved or removed.

Who do I contact if I have a tree removal question?

Please email the Community Tree Preservation (City Arborist) division at cityarborist@austintexas.gov, call Austin 3-1-1, or schedule an appointment with Development Services online.

Can I plant or remove a tree in the public right of way?

Trees that are located within the public right of way are regulated by the Public Works Department. Planting or removing trees in the public right of way requires approval by the City of Austin.

My neighbor’s tree limbs are growing over my property line. Can I prune them?

Legally, this is a civil matter between the property owners. Typically, landowners may remove vegetation that crosses their property line, or the air space directly above it. However, we strongly encourage neighbors to discuss these issues and agree on a plan before any action is taken. We also encourage using ideal pruning techniques. NOTE: If the tree is protected (19 inches or more in diameter), no more than 25% of the canopy may be removed without a permit.

Will the City pick up my tree and yard clippings?

Austin Resource Recovery (formerly Solid Waste Services) manages these concerns for most properties within the City of Austin.

Will the City prune or remove my tree?

The property owner is responsible for tree removal or required maintenance unless the tree is located on public property.

Who can I contact about trees around power lines?

The Austin Energy Forestry Division addresses issues involving trees around power lines. For more information, call Customer Care at 512-494-9400 or email utilityforestry@austinenergy.com.

Who can I contact about other problems with trees?

Call Austin 3-1-1 for issues related to trees for which the City is responsible. Examples include:

  • Tree limbs hampering traffic flow
  • Fallen tree clogging a waterway
  • ree fallen on utility lines
  • Tree blocking a street or alley
  • Tree creating a blind spot at an intersection

 

Something is wrong with my trees. Can someone come out and look at them?

While we are happy to answer basic questions over the phone or via email, residents should hire an ISA-certified arborist for tree problems on private property. The City of Austin does not provide tree consulting for residents.

The Find an Arborist tool from Trees Are Good or the American Society of Consulting Arborists may help you find a certified arborist in your area.

Can you recommend a good arborist?

While we cannot recommend specific arborists, we can help you find an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist who specializes in what you need, whether it be trimming, removal or a diagnosis.

The Find an Arborist tool from Trees Are Good or the American Society of Consulting Arborists may help you find a certified arborist in your area.

Can you identify what type of tree this is?

The Hill Country area is home to more than 100 different tree species. The Texas A&M Forest Service offers a free mobile app called My Tree ID that can help identify tree species using a key, descriptions, and full-color images. Texas A&M’s Texas Native Trees photo gallery may also help you identify the correct species.

Learn more about Central Texas native plants and sustainable growing practices from the City of Austin’s Grow Green program.

How do you tell the age of a tree?

The most accurate way to tell the age of a tree is to take a core sample from the trunk using a special tool known as an increment borer and count the rings in the sample. If you cannot or do not want to take a core sample, My Tree ID, a free mobile app from the Texas A&M Forest Service, features a tree age estimator tool.

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