DPIE Under Construction Newsletter March 2021

DPIE Under Construction masthead with Permitting, Plan Review, Licensing, Inspections and Enforcement visuals, and DPIE logo

March 2021

Message from the Director

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DPIE Director Melinda Bolling

A year ago this week, DPIE and other County buildings closed due to COVID-19. DPIE staff shifted operations from their offices and work sites to their home computers and vehicles. Many inspections went virtual. Commercial construction inspections continued when they could be done safely. Document submission and approval went online. Zoom and Google Teams became our meeting rooms. 

As we mark this unfortunate anniversary, statistics show DPIE still had a successful year. From March 2020 through February 2021, the agency generated $32.7 million, 95.5 percent of the revenue raised the previous year. The income was fueled largely by economic development that continued to burgeon as DPIE's Business Development Section, implementation of the County's Momentum online system and other programs provided assistance for businesses. DPIE also issued 39,360 permits and licenses last year.

Continue to post those permit applications, call 311 with your code violation concerns and schedule needed inspections. We're still working. 

Be safe!

Melinda Bolling

Masks, Distancing and Technology Help Staff Function During Pandemic

Inspector Monica Hemmatian


Shaghayegh "Monica" Hemmatian of the Inspections Division measures the footing for a deck during a residential inspection. During the pandemic inspectors have donned masks and utilized social distancing to conduct inspections safely. DPIE began conducting virtual inspections shortly after the shutdown of some residential projects to allow property owners to complete their projects. The agency's ability to continue inspections of commercial projects allowed new home construction to thrive and businesses to open in 2020 to serve residents and generate revenue for the County.  

Property Maintenance Standards Enforcement

Enforcement Division Property Standards Inspectors Rick Smith (left) and David McLaurin prepare to participate in a door-to-door education campaign in Laurel. Enforcement has continued to inspect for property maintenance code compliance, issue citations and work with property owners to address violations. The Administrative Hearing Unit has been granted additional authority to adjudicate violation cases more expeditiously and the Nuisance Abatement Board continues to address nuisance properties. 

Inspectors Ricardo Smith and David McLaurin prepare to deliver information to Laurel residents.
Heidi Stearlings

Permitting and Licensing

Licensing Supervisor Heidi Stearlings and other members of the Permitting and Licensing Division have ensured that licenses and permits continue to be issued. Employees are working from home using updated technology. Implementation of the Momentum online system is facilitating business and rental license application submission, document upload and fee payment. It also allows customers to print out the  licenses once applications have been reviewed and approved. Permitting staff are working on as many as 120 permit applications daily. Plan review and other tasks also continue.


Illegal Businesses and Other Zoning Issues

Inspector Sam Cappetta of the Enforcement Division investigates a zoning violation. Last year, the Zoning Unit conducted several investigations of businesses operating outside of their Use and Occupancy Permits (U&O). The team also saw an uptick in illegal home-based businesses. Running a business -- such as a restaurant, nail salon or auto shop out of a residence -- is illegal and carries fines of up to $2,300.  

Sam Cappetta of the Enforcement Division investigates a property for possible zoning violations.
Zoning investigators inspect a restaurant to ensure it complies with pandemic mandates.

Commercial Compliance with Pandemic Requirements

Inspectors Larry Long and Gabe Bejarano consult with a restaurant manager to determine if the restaurant was operating in compliance with pandemic-related requirements such as reduced hours, seating capacity limits and social distancing and mask mandates. Several DPIE Enforcement Division inspectors are working with the County's Ambassador Program to address such issues with commercial establishments to ensure they are providing safe service to citizens. 

Code Violations Ignite Concerns for Enforcement's Calvin Saunders

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Calvin Saunders photo

Property Standards Inspector Calvin Saunders counts among his favorite possessions a battered Prince George’s County Fire Department helmet that once saved him from serious injury. It reminds him how close danger can lurk and how important it is to be prepared to protect yourself from it.  

Five years ago, Saunders joined the Enforcement Division’s Multifamily Housing Unit, which inspects apartment complexes to ensure they comply with safety requirements. He came to DPIE after 24 years with the fire department, where he worked as a firefighter/EMT before becoming an inspector with the Office of the Fire Marshal.

The skills he learned there inform his work inspecting multifamily units for DPIE. When his colleagues see a stove with inadequate ventilation, he recalls a mother being transported to the a hospital suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Because of his experience in the fire department, Saunders also responds to incidents which may result in tenant displacement.

Born and raised in Prince George’s County, Saunders worked at fire stations in District Heights and Bowie. He worked explosions, extinguished fires and even delivered two babies – one in a car on the shoulder of Branch Avenue. “Every time I helped a citizen, I felt like I’d scored a touchdown,” he said. 

At the Fire Marshal’s Office, he worked as a special hazard inspector, inspecting everything from fireworks displays at Six Flags to life safety requirements at County buildings.

As a Multifamily Unit inspector, he is part of a team that checks County apartment buildings biannually to ensure their code compliance, adherence to their Use and Occupancy Permit (U&O) and suitability to hold a rental license. The unit also responds to complaints from 311.

Saunders was among the inspectors from DPIE, the health department and the police department who investigated and closed an illegal Caribbean restaurant that was being operated out of a six-unit apartment building last year. 

“It was the neighborhood place to get food and hang out,” Saunders said. “They had tables with table clothes, liquor, a bar, bulk food stored in deep freezers. We ended up posting the building as unfit. Their U&O and rental license were taken away. There were residents living in five other units who had to be moved."

Saunders said the best part of his job at DPIE is “making sure citizens are living in safe, healthy, clean environments and that owners maintain their properties at code level.”

The worst part is knowing how unsafe many County homes are. He advises residents to make sure their properties comply with County code, maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, keep hazardous storage away from utilities, establish an emergency escape plan and ensure their homes’ have clear ingress and egress.

“It only takes 90 seconds for little trash can fire to put out enough smoke to render you unconscious. The heat from the fire or the smoke can kill you before fire reaches you,” Saunders said. “People will have three locks on the door but not one working smoke detector in the house or it will be disconnected because they don’t want it to go off when they’re cooking. They just need to make sure their homes are safe.” 

Enforcement Division Multifamily Unit Inspector Calvin Saunders (left) reviews records with Inspector Terrence Dickens, another firefighter who has joined the DPIE family. Agency staff includes a number of retired firefighters and police officers. 


DPIE, DoE and DPW&T at a Glance

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Agency Listing Information

Click here for information and live links to help you direct your inquiries to the appropriate agency.

Notice for Electricians

Electricians are required to maintain up-to-date contact information at DPIE. Notify the agency of any change to your phone number, email address, mailing address, etc. by sending an email to dpiebusinesslicenses@co.pg.md.us


Demolition Program Protects Safety and Aesthetic Value of Communities

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Before and After

The Inspections Division manages the County's building demolition program, which allows the destruction of unsafe structures. Property owners are notified and given adequate time to bring the  properties into compliance. Dilapidated and dangerous structures that are not repaired by the owner are demolished and a lien is placed on the property to require the owner to reimburse the County for the cost. The demolition program aligns with the County's Beautification Initiative.

Spuce Up Your Property for Spring

Spring is around the corner, so now is a great time to beautify your property and bring it into compliance. Try these steps:   

Repair peeling paint, loose siding, ragged gutters and sagging downspouts.

Fix broken windows and doors.

Clear away fallen branches, open storage and trash and debris.

Remove old appliances, building materials, furniture, garbage, untagged vehicles and car parts.

Cut your grass, pull weeds and prune your plants. Remember, having grass and weeds over 12-inches tall on your lot is a County code violation punishable by a hefty fine!

Clean and secure your vacant property.

Remove any outdated holiday-related decorations and neatly hang season-appropriate ones.

For information about property maintenance, see the FAQ's on the Enforcement Division webpage.


DPIE Contact Information

Team members are available to assist you weekdays 8:30 am - 4 pm. Visit us on the website or call us:

Permits - 301-636-2050 ext. 6

Licensing - 301-636-2050 ext. 5

Site/Road Plan Review - 301-636-2060

Building Plan Review - 301-636-2070

Inspections - 301-636-2080

Code Enforcement - 301-883-6168

Public Information - 301-636-2053

Business Development Section - 301-636-2058


New additions

New Hires

DPIE welcomes the following new hire and congratulates her on joining the team! 

Sophia -- New Hire

Sofie Orosco-Guzman, Enforcement Division – Property Standards Inspector I/II. Start date 3/1/2021

Sophia aspires to help women domestic violence victims to create a new future for themselves and their children. In her spare time, she enjoys creating unforgettable memories with her two children, trying new foods, cooking, traveling and sports. She believes laughter is a core workout, feeds the soul, makes life better, has no calories and is free and contagious!


Years of Service Recognition

Sue Hall celebrates 45 years

Permits Supervisor Sue Hall (center, in red sweater), who joined Prince George's County Government in 1975, is feted by colleagues for a milestone birthday prior to COVID-19.

P&L's Sue Hall Celebrates 45 Years of County Service

When Sue Hall came to work for Prince George’s County Government, motorists listened to disco on 8 tracks, leisure suits were high fashion, the Vietnam War had just ended and "Saturday Night Live" was new on NBC. Stamps cost 10 cents, a gallon of gas set you back a quarter and a loaf of bread ran 35 cents. 

Ms. Hall, the mother of two, had been working as an auctioneer for her father in July 1975 when she was hired as an entry-level clerk in the Permits Office of the Hyattsville-based Department of Environmental Resources (DER).  

"You had to drive to WSSC and Park and Planning and all these other places, so you had to have a driver's license and a car before they would  hire you," she said. 

Eight U.S. presidents, seven Maryland governors and six County executives later, Ms. Hall now works as a Permits Supervisor at DPIE headquarters in Largo.

"People ask me how I stood it all this time," she said, laughing. "I enjoy it. You meet interesting people. The employees have always been very nice and the upper management has always treated me fairly. Why should I go someplace else when I enjoyed working here?"

For 45 years, she has driven at least two hours round trip each day and worked 40-plus hour weeks. When snow events kept less committed colleagues from driving a few miles to work, Ms. Hall braved the inclement weather to get to her desk. 

"I've asked [my supervisor] if I could come in a couple days a week during COVID telework, but she turned me down," Ms. Hall said. "I think they worry about me." 

She has no plans to stop working. Her two children have given her nine grand-children and 22 great-grands, including 6 month-old twins. Spending time with family is her favorite pastime.

"I'm not a party goer or one of these people who would get in a car after they retire and go," she said. "I just stay home and enjoy the family. I see these people who retire who don't have hobbies or anything to do. They find themselves getting bored and then the next you know they're sick. Then the next thing you know, they're dead. I enjoy my life. I have no plans to retire."

Technological advances have made the job easier over the decades. Ms. Hall has enjoyed watching the County grow and the role she played in its development. Her commitment stands as an example to her colleagues. 

“Sue Hall is ready every day to make sure the citizens of Prince George’s County who seek her assistance in Permits receive first-class service,” said Director Melinda Bolling. “It is obvious that she enjoys her work. We celebrate her career and look forward to being able to congratulate her in person when our offices reopen. We know she'll be one of the first people in the building!" 

DPIE would like to congratulate the following employees for their years of service
to Prince George's County Government! 

45 Years
Suzanne Hall (Permitting and Licensing)

40 Years
Scottie Mauney (Inspections)

35 Years
Dawit Abraham (Director’s Office)
Joe Brown (Inspections) 
Sharon Condor (Building Plan Review)

30 Years
Michael Metz (Director’s Office)
Carolyn Rodgers (Enforcement)
Heidi Stearlings (Permitting and Licensing)

20 Years
Denny Brittingham (Inspections)
Amanda Gullickson (Site/Road Plan Division)
Chonnie Harper (Inspections)
Kenneth Harrison (Inspections)
Tammy Jones (Permitting and Licensing)
Yvette Jones (Enforcement)
Myra Leonard (Building Plan Review)
Isaac McKelvin (Inspections)

15 Years
Ethelbert Anthony (Enforcement)
Tony Best (Enforcement)
Alona Beverly (Inspections)
Jason Carter (Inspections)
Shirley Chinn (Enforcement)
Sylvester Colbert (Inspections)
Robert Gentry (Enforcement)
Lorenzo Hill (Enforcement)
Domonique Lewis (Permitting and Licensing)
Cynthia Manuel (Director’s Office)
Mary Sanders (Enforcement)
Chitranjan Saravanapavan (Inspections)
Craig Shelton (Enforcement)
Michele Stearlings (Enforcement)
Matthew Turner (Inspections)
Darryl White (Enforcement)
Brandon Wright (Enforcement)

10 Years
Janice Chapin (Enforcement)
Gopal Samanta (Permitting and Licensing)

5 Years
Daynaira Adams (Permitting and Licensing)
Jerod Briscoe (Building Plan Review)
Tonie Grady (Enforcement)
Matthew Hubbard (Building Plan Review)
Thomas Jenkins (Inspections)
David Kamara (Enforcement)
Kevin Miller (Enforcement)
Anthony Morris (Permitting and Licensing)
Ramesh Patel (Building Plan Review)
Tramel Peterson (Enforcement)
Bellur Ravishankar (Permitting and Licensing)
Angela Wade (Site/Road Plan Review)


Employee of the Month

Maria Smith -- Employee of the Month

DPIE Congratulates Maria Smith
Permit Specialist II, Permitting and Licensing Division Employee of the Month for March 2021

Maria Smith is being recognized for professionalism and excellence.  She has worked diligently to assist customers with revising their electrical trade permits since DPIE headquarters was closed last March due to COVID-19. She also provided technical assistance to electrical contractors to ensure customer service continuity while a colleague was on extended leave. Maria has processed and issued 2,170 revised electrical permits over the last year, including manually processing electrical revision applications and calculating revision fees for electrical companies installing new systems in commercial buildings. 

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