DPIE Under Construction Anniversary Issue, July 2020, Special Edition

DPIE 7th Anniversary Masthead, July 2020 Special Edition

July 2020

DPIE Turns 7!

Director Melinda Bolling

Seven years ago this month, DPIE opened its doors with a mandate to streamline permitting, plan review, business licensing, inspection, property maintenance and enforcement operations. As we move into our eighth year, the DPIE family will continue to strive to improve its service to our customers.

Upgrades in technology are allowing us to provide better and faster response in everything from scheduling inspections to processing permits to resolving violations of County code.  For example,
this spring, due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements, we began doing virtual inspections on limited residential projects. That initiative has been well received and will be expanded to include additional projects.

We also continue to focus on helping the County increase economic development. Our Business Development Section (BDS) team works with owners of established businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs to help them navigate permitting and licensing requirements. You can find their seminars on DPIE's YouTube channel and see the team’s updates in their monthly Building Blocks newsletter.

Our Administrative Hearing Unit (AHU) is helping to reduce the time it takes to adjudicate code violations. The County Council voted in June to expand the unit’s authority by adding short-term rental and unpermitted construction violations to the cases AHU hears. We have made it a priority to pursue scofflaws responsible for unpermitted construction who are often home “flippers” who leave unsuspecting home buyers with shoddily-built projects and huge fines when the unpermitted construction is discovered. We also are urging buyers to verify that any construction on an existing home is appropriately permitted before they purchase.

We are also continuing our efforts to hold responsible those who violate property maintenance requirements. Violations such as tall grass and weeds, peeling paint, littered lots, untagged vehicles and snarled traffic due to illegal businesses create eyesores and detract from property values in our communities. We will continue to address these problems by issuing violation notices and fines and taking additional steps when necessary.

We are here to serve you. As we continue to work in modified circumstances, know that the DPIE family remains committed to providing you the best service we can.

Melinda's signature block

DPIE: From Idea to Inception in Less Than a Year

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Deputy Director Gary Cunningham

The mandate was to simplify a series of processes that had proven daunting to citizens by dismantling one agency and uniting sections from others to form a new department.

The new agency, named the Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement, DPIE for short, opened its doors with a bold mission on July 1, 2013. It has improved its delivery of services every year since by focusing on expediting processes from permit filing to fee payment to violation notice adjudication, said Gary Cunningham, the first Deputy Director of DPIE.

“The creation of DPIE occurred in less than a year,” Cunningham said. “It was an amazingly short time to establish a new department comprised of multiple sections of existing agencies merged into one functioning entity. It was an aggressive and challenging initiative.”

Prior to DPIE, services were spread over several locations. Citizens and business owners complained about the difficulty of navigating not only the permitting and licensing processes but also the number of agencies involved.

“The purpose of DPIE was to put everything in one place and to streamline operations,” said Cunningham, who came to DPIE after a career in the Prince George’s County Police Department. “DPIE has improved the processes and shortened wait times.”

Today, the agency is home to about 300 employees divided among seven divisions.

“DPIE’s functions and responsibilities are many,” Cunningham said. “We inspect residential and commercial developments to make sure they are safe and in compliance with codes. We issue professional licenses. We issue licenses for restaurants and convenience stores. And, we are the agency responsible for helping to maintain the County’s aesthetic value through property standards enforcement.”

He said initiatives established by Director Bolling have led to upgraded technology, improved inspection times, stricter code enforcement and faster permitting, plan review and licensing for customers.

“And we have a dedicated staff that enthusiastically goes about the agency’s work every day. We are all committed to fulfilling DPIE’s mission,” Cunningham said.

Significant Dates in DPIE’s History

DPIE Time Line 2020

August 2012 – Executive Order creates agency to consolidate permitting, licensing, plan
  review, property maintenance enforcement, inspection and other functions

July 1, 2013 – DPIE Grand Opening

February 2014 – DPIE expands services by opening second floor

August 2014 – DPIE signs MOUs with M–NCPPC and WSSC defining functions and responsibilities

September 2014 – Enforcement Division moves to DPIE Headquarters on Peppercorn Place

January 2015 – Nuisance Abatement Board (NAB), established to conduct monthly hearings
  regarding public nuisance complaints, hears first case

August 2016 – Enforcement Division begins tracking complaints using the County’s electronic
  Customer Service Request (CSR) System

August 2018 – DPIE Administrative Hearing Unit (AHU) hears first code violation case

November 2018 – Melinda Bolling appointed Acting Director of DPIE

May 2019 – Melinda Bolling confirmed as DPIE Director

October 2019 – Business Development Section (BDS) formed to assist businesses with
  permitting and licensing; DPIE begins administering County's Short-Term Rentals Program

January 2020 – DPIE begins rolling out updated technology systems to improve services

February 2020 – DPIE begins processing Small Wireless Facilities Permits

March 2020 – DPIE is among County buildings closed due to COVID-19; staff begin teleworking;
  online services increased to assist customers

April 2020 – DPIE begins virtual inspections on limited projects

June 2020 – DPIE begins issuing Restaurant Temporary Outdoor Seating Area (RTOSA) Permits
  to expand dining options for citizens during social distancing

Summer 2020 – Launch of Momentum, the new County electronic customer service system for
  permitting, licensing, inspections and enforcement; Phase I commences with licensing

Deputy Directors Cunningham and Abraham attend Momentum presentation with Director Bolling

Economic Development a Focus of DPIE Efforts

University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center, Largo, during construction
Deputy Director Dawit Abraham

DPIE Deputy Director Dawit Abraham, who oversees the Permitting and Licensing, Building Plan Review and Site/Road Plan Review divisions, said DPIE is among the top County agencies involved in economic development by working with developers and construction companies building projects in the County. DPIE works to verify projects are built according to the highest safety standards and assists companies interested in building in the County with permitting and licensing requirements.

“Burgeoning economic development increases employment opportunities and tax revenue for the County,” Abraham said. "DPIE is one of Prince George's County's top revenue-generating agencies.  Director Bolling came to DPIE with a focus on upgrading DPIE's response to commercial developers, as well as small businesses and entrepreneurs interested in starting small companies."

The largest development projects constructed in Prince George’s County since DPIE’s inception in 2013 include:

• The MGM National Harbor Resort and Casino, Oxon Hill

• The Hyattsville Arts District

• The University Towers student housing and retail development, College Park

• Children’s National Hospital Center, Largo

• The University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center, Largo

• One Town Center, including the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices, 
  Camp Springs

• PSEG Keys Energy Center, Brandywine

• Smith Farm residential development, including the Westphalia community, Upper Marlboro

• Kaiser Permanente and Metro offices, New Carrollton

• The University of Maryland Conference Center, College Park

“If I had to add a couple more to the list, they would be the U.S. Route 1 Corridor development of hotels and multi-family dwellings in College Park, the Whole Foods Cafritz development in Hyattsville and, of course, the Purple Line Transit Development by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT),” Abraham said.

Captain DPIE - Dan Dornan instrumental in launching DPIE

Licensing Section Processes Documents with an Eye on Customer Service

Licensing Supervisor Heidi Stearlings processes licenses during COVID-19 pandemic.

Inside a back office in an almost hidden section of DPIE’s first floor, Supervisor Heidi Stearlings oversees an operation whose duties include processing applications, collecting fees and issuing business and health licenses.

In August, she’ll celebrate 30 years of employment with Prince George’s County. She previously worked as a Licensing supervisor for DER before it became part of DPIE.

Before COVID-19 led officials to close County buildings in March, her staff of three welcomed dozens of building contractors, master electricians, motor vehicle repair shop owners, convenience store owners, pool operators, food service managers and more, each week.

Stearlings credits Permits Specialists Daynaira Adams and Patti Jones and Citizens Services Specialist Shaa’ron Williams, II, for their commitment to serve customers promptly.

“The mantra of DPIE when it first started was that we would be a one-stop shop for permits and licenses, and the process would be faster,” she said. “Previously, people had to drop off applications or mail them in for processing. Due to the technology we have now, we are able to process business licenses in one day, instead of five to seven days like it used to take.”

The Licensing team is looking forward to the upcoming launch of Momentum, the County’s new online system with a licensing component. Momentum will allow customers to submit applications, upload relevant information and make payments online. When the application has been reviewed and approved, customers will be able to print their licenses at work or at home.

“I’m looking forward to the new system and moving forward,” Williams said. “This will provide an opportunity for us to better serve our customers.”

IT Modernization on the Horizon to Improve Customer Experience

IT Supervisor Ed Hall works remotely

As DPIE celebrates its seventh anniversary, Director Bolling has challenged the agency’s IT leadership to transform and modernize operations and business systems.

Associate Director of Technology Business Systems Yvette Gayles said technology modernization is required because working on “legacy systems” presents obstacles to maintaining operational efficiency.

“Slow systems and inefficient business processes impact performance such as processing permit applications, which impacts the start of construction projects and issuing licenses to open a business,” Gayles said. “We want systems to operate at peak performance. Downtime and/or inefficient processes affect productivity. Our goal is to increase efficiencies and minimize issues with performance, allowing day-to-day operations to run more smoothly.”

Limited functionality results in costly delays, while improving user experience enhances service delivery and customer satisfaction, she said.

The modernization program will consist of upgrading the agency’s business systems for:

• Application submission and plan review

• Records and data management

• Customer service and complaints

• Building and business compliance

• Small business and community outreach

• Administrative hearings and boards and commissions

“Transforming the way we conduct business by updating business systems, introducing innovative tools, and changing business processes to fit the department’s current and future goals will allow DPIE to continue to fulfill the County Executive’s commitment to more effective customer service delivery,” said Kevin Edwards, DPIE’s chief technology advisor.

Site/Road Plan Review Has New Permits and Process Changes

Mahmoud Tayyem assists a customer at the Site/Road Permit Counter. (Photo was taken before current social distancing mandates.)

Small Wireless Permitting: NEW! Effective February 2020, DPIE is now ready to process permits
  for small wireless facilities. The legislation was enacted, and a Small Wireless Facility Design Manual
  was created. Visit DPIE's website to view the small wireless facility frequently asked questions (FAQs)
  and the "Small Wireless Facility (SWF) in the Right-of-Way" presentation for helpful details on how to
  file for permits.

Residential Infill Lot Permitting: REMINDER!  For homeowners and small builders, the residential
  infill lot permit process is an expedited permit process to achieve DPIE Site/Road approval for residential
  infill lots. Review Techno-gram 008-2018: Streamlined Processing for Residential Infill Lots and
  Attachments for details. You may also contact Tuan Duc at thduc@co.pg.md.us or Yonas Tesfai
  at ystesfai@co.pg.md.us for more information.

Floodplain Techno-gram: NEW! On June 19, 2020, DPIE issued Techno-gram 004-2020:
  Floodplain Requirements and Procedures. This document details information pertaining to how to
  delineate a 100-year floodplain and development procedures for projects that have 100-year

ProjectFlow: NEW! The DPIE Site/Road Plan Review Division rolled out the conversion of all site/road
  cases from ProjectDox to ProjectFlow in February 2020. Special utility cases were rolled out in
  January 2020. ProjectFlow has improved folder structure. ProjectFlow allows DPIE review cycles 
  exchange between applicant and agency independently from M–NCPPC review cycles, resulting
  in more efficient permit processing.

Water and Sewer Cycles: NEW! DPIE now processes legislative water and sewer amendments
  four times a year, instead of three. The new filing deadlines are March 1st, June 1st, September 1st
  and December 1st.

Preconstruction Meetings before Permit Issuance: UPCOMING! Effective August 1, 2020, DPIE
  will require the preconstruction meeting to be held prior to issuance of grading and street construction
  permits. See notice on DPIE website for more details.

Third-Party Inspection for Utility and Small Wireless Permitting: UPCOMING! In the fall of 2020,
  DPIE will require use of third-party inspectors for special utility and small wireless permitting. Utility
  companies should submit qualifications for the third-party inspectors to the DPIE Inspections
  Division for preapproval. The declaration of third-party inspector will be required before
  permit issuance.

Building Plan Review — At the Forefront of Development

Senior Structural Engineers Avadhesh Patel and Sompandh “Piak” Wanant review plans. (Photo was taken before current social distancing mandates.)

Before anything is built in Prince George’s County, plans for the structure must be approved by DPIE’s Building Plan Review Division (BPRD). Located on the second floor of DPIE, BPRD staff evaluates plans for all residential and commercial projects to ensure compliance with applicable codes. The codes regulate safety in structural, mechanical, energy, electrical, health, fire protection and accessibility phases of construction.

BPRD also is responsible for plan approval for development involving water and sewer connections, plumbing devices and natural gas connections by WSSC. The division has worked collaboratively on the adoption of the 2015 and 2018 International Building Codes and County amendments. 

“In time for the construction boom in the County, the Building Plan Review Division, with additional staff, is providing enhanced technical service to the construction industry,” said Sompandh “Piak” Wanant, a BPRD senior engineer/supervisor. He cited the Woodmore Town Center and surrounding development in Glenarden, MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill and the University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center in Largo, which is set to open next year, as projects on which he’s proudest to have worked.

BPRD also has implemented programs for third-party and peer plan review. The third-party review program certifies certain qualified architects and professional engineers to conduct building plan review. To assist owners, developers and project design teams with code requirements, BPRD conducts preliminary design review meetings for large projects. The meetings are held in conjunction with sister agencies to ensure the entire permitting process is addressed at one time.

While the DPIE Headquarters building in Largo has been closed during the pandemic, requiring staffers to telework, the BPRD team has continued to make major strides in customer service.

“The division has seen a 70 percent increase in electronic plan reviews since the operational changes mandated by COVID-19 were implemented in mid-March,” said BPRD Associate Director Bellur Ravishankar. “They continue to do excellent work and are focused on customer service more than ever during the current situation.”

Read more about BPRD on the DPIE website.

Associate Directors Lead Daily Operations

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Enforcement Division Associate Director Valerie Cary

Associate Director Valerie Cary

Code Enforcement Division

Q: What are your major responsibilities?
A: The Enforcement Division is responsible for enforcing the County’s housing and zoning codes.

Q: What position did you hold prior to coming to DPIE? 
A: I was a Prince George’s County Police officer.

Q: How did you envision the agency? 
A: DPIE was designed to be a "one-stop shop" for development projects in the County, from small home improvement projects to large-scale projects such as MGM National Harbor. It was also created to provide stricter enforcement of property maintenance codes, which is my division’s priority.

Q: Has it fulfilled what you believed it would be? 
A: I believe it has. You can come into the building, move from station to station and eventually leave with permits to move forward with your project. Previously, you had to run around the County to several locations.

Q: What are the most important contributions DPIE has made to the County? 
A: The expedited permitting process has helped the continued commercial growth of the County. The increased property standards enforcement is directly responsible for lowering the crime rate and improving property values, both of which bolster economic development.

Q: What do you think should be a priority for the agency moving forward?
A: DPIE should continue to find innovative ways to expedite the permitting process while always maintaining high standards for safety for the community.


Associate Director Bellur Ravishankar

Associate Director Bellur Ravishankar

Permitting & Licensing Division
and Building Plan Review Division

Q: What are your primary responsibilities?
A:  As the Associate Director of the Building Plan Review Division and the Permitting and Licensing Division, I oversee day-to-day operations of both divisions and provide guidance to staff, as well as customers. I conduct project meetings on large projects in association with other County agencies. I manage the budgets of both divisions and direct training for staff. I am currently working with our IT team to implement the new permitting and licensing system.

Q: What position did you hold prior to coming to DPIE?
A:  I worked at the District of Columbia’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) for almost 30 years before retiring as a division chief.

Q: How did you envision the agency when you came to DPIE?
A: I came to DPIE because it was at the infant stage thinking I could use many of the programs I had successfully implemented previously to make DPIE a shining star in the County.

Q: What are the most important contributions DPIE has made to the County?
A: Through facilitating economic development, DPIE has contributed to employment opportunities, better housing and an improved school system for County residents.


Associate Director Yvette Gayles

Associate Director Yvette Gayles

Technology Business Systems and Operations

Q: What are your major responsibilities?
A: I manage technology operations for the agency which include enterprise business systems, hardware/software, data and customer support.

Q: What position did you hold prior to coming to DPIE?
A: I worked in both the public and private sectors managing technology and fiscal operations. Prior to coming to the County, I was deputy CIO for a similar agency.

Q: How did you envision DPIE?
A: I envisioned the journey to be exciting to work with Director Bolling on fulling her strategic goals, one of which is to use technology to improve operations and decision making.

Q: Has it fulfilled what you believed it would be?
A: Yes, the Director has hefty goals underway, and I am confident we will scale new heights by the end of 2022. The people are great. Both internal and external customers have been a joy to work with.

Q: What do you think should be a priority for the agency moving forward?
A: Increasing technology should be a priority, allowing greater transparency, efficiency, improving customer experience and allowing the public to “skip the trip” by accessing data and doing business with DPIE online.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: I’m excited to be part of an organization committed to continuous improvement.


Site Road Plan Review Division Associate Director Mary Giles

Associate Director Mary Giles

Site/Road Plan Review Division

Q: What are your primary responsibilities?
A: I manage Site/Road, which is responsible for permit review and processing to ensure code compliance for land development, including site grading, development, roadways, stormwater management, storm drain, drainage, floodplain, traffic systems, bridges, major culverts, retaining walls, etc.

Q: What position did you hold prior to coming to DPIE?
A: I was an engineer for DPW&T managing Capital Improvement Program (CIP) road projects. Prior to County employment, I managed County-based land development firms’ engineering operations and land development projects.

Q: How did you envision the agency?
A: I envisioned DPIE would provide timely, streamlined and accurate code compliance review for land development projects to ensure the County’s success in achieving economic development and improvement of Prince George's County facilities necessary to maintain a vibrant jurisdiction. 

Q: Has it fulfilled what you believed it would be?
A: DPIE has been very successful in improving the permit process, ensuring that projects are designed responsibly to meet the goals of County and State codes.

Q: What are the most important contributions DPIE has made to the County?
A: The agency has been part of delivering permits for many important projects and has developed improved permitting systems, fully automating the customers’ ability to file permits and plans online. We have updated codes periodically to ensure compliance with State-delegated programs such as stormwater management, floodplain and water/sewer planning. 

Q: What do you think should be a priority for the agency moving forward?
A: Continuous hiring of talented employees, developing a new electronic permitting system, including DPIE’s role in the major revisions to the Zoning and Subdivision codes, and developing a digital file repository for all permit documents.


Associate Director Behdad Kashanian

Associate Director Behdad Kashanian

Inspections Division

Q: What are your primary responsibilities?
A: I supervise code enforcement for building, electrical, mechanical, energy, fire, zoning, road construction, SWM facilities, bridge construction,
site development and accessibility. I supervise
75 employees who work to ensure structures comply with applicable safety codes.

Q: What position did you hold prior to coming to DPIE?
A: I was an Associate Director at the Department
of Environmental Resources (DER), the precursor
to DPIE.

Q: How did you envision the agency when you came to DPIE?
A: The Inspections Division would manage the building and site/road inspections by overseeing the effective, fair and safe enforcement of the County’s building, housing, electrical, mechanical, fire and site/road codes, along with disability access regulations.

Q: What are the most important contributions DPIE has made to the County?
A: The life safety of our citizens is the most important contribution. We play a critical role in reducing the risk of fire, electrical, and other life safety hazards for citizens. Actions like enacting and enforcing building codes and carrying out fire inspections are examples of DPIE efforts that have contributed to the reduction in fires and associated losses in the County.

Q: What do you think should be a priority for the agency moving forward?
A: Building a culture of mutual trust, focusing on employee strengths, continuing with extensive training and developing employees’ careers.


Administrative Services Division Associate Director Kimberly Smith

Associate Director Kimberly Smith

Administrative Services Division

Q: What are your major responsibilities?
A: I am responsible for directing Human Resources activities, vendor contracts, budget, procurement, accounts payable, County-assigned vehicles, facility operations and more.

Q: What position did you hold prior to coming to DPIE?
A: I was the manager of the Administrative Services Division at the Prince George’s County Health Department.

Q: How did you envision the agency?
A: I was excited to work with a newly established agency and accepted this as an opportunity to flourish personally and professionally while growing with the Department.

Q: Has it fulfilled what you believed it would be?
A: Definitely, yes. New services have been established, as well as significant enhancements with technology software and systems, to better serve our employees and the community.

Q: What are the most important contributions DPIE has made to the County?
A: DPIE employees take pride in their work to ensure our internal and external customers’ needs are met. Services DPIE staff members perform daily contribute to the County’s economic development, maintain property standards and ensure code compliance.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: DPIE staff are dedicated and committed to achieving the mission and goals of the agency. It has been a pleasure working with everyone!

DPIE Off the Clock

DPIE Off the Clock

DPIE team members work hard by day, but in their off time, they engage in a wide range of avocations from coaching sports teams to performing in music groups!


Hobbies:  Tia - fashion modelingHobbies:  Ebony - dual masters degreesHobbies:  Eric - bodybuildingHobbies:  Dan - building scale modelsHobbies:  Tony - Limo businessHobbies:  DeJuan - DeeJayHobbies:  Darryll - church pastorHobbies:  Ronnie - fishing

New Additions banner

New Hires

DPIE welcomes the following new hires and congratulates them on joining the team!  Each new staffer has shared some information to help us get to know them and their start date.

Alexis Martin

Alexis Martin, Enforcement Division — Property Standards Inspector, 5/26/2020

I am a native of Prince George's County. Since graduating in 2015 from Millersville University, I worked four years as a meeting planner. I enjoy watching documentaries, planning events and playing in a co-ed flag football league. I played basketball for Elizabeth Seton High School (2010 championship team!) and Millersville University.

Muna Ahmed

Muna Ahmed, Site/Road Plan Review Division — Engineer III, 5/26/2020

I am a civil engineer with more than 10 years of experience in transportation engineering. I hold Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in civil engineering from Ethiopia’s Jimma University and Addis Ababa University, respectively. I also have a Maryland Engineer in Training (EIT) License.

Ted Jeong

Ted Jeong, Site/Road Plan Review Division — Engineer III, 6/8/2020

I am a civil engineer with five years of land development design, permit processing and project management experience. I have worked for private developers on commercial and mixed-use residential properties. I am blessed to be joining DPIE. As development increases in the County, I will find fulfillment in having a positive impact on the public.

Kristina Aguillard


Kristina Aguillard, Director’s Office — Administrative Assistant I/II, 6/21/2020

I have been a County employee since 2012, previously working in the DPW&T Office of Engineering and Project Management. I am from
New Orleans, and graduated from Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia. I volunteer for the American Red Cross as a military caseworker and the Maryland Response Medical Reserve Corps.

Face Covering Required in Public

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2020 Census

By law, every 10 years the U.S. Census counts every resident in the United States. Your participation determines representation and how billions in federal funds are distributed. If our community is undercounted, friends and neighbors miss out on an estimated $18,250 per person over a 10-year period. Statewide, that’s a total of $26.6 billion over a 10-year period.