Under Construction Newsletter, July 2021

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

July 2021

white space

Message from the Director

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text
DPIE Director Melinda Bolling

DPIE officially celebrates its eighth anniversary this month as our County continues to reopen. We never stopped working, but the relaxation of social distancing mandates has made it possible for my team to work even more effectively on your behalf. As commercial development continues to flourish in the County, DPIE staff is safely working with entrepreneurs to get their permits and inspections completed to facilitate construction of their projects and opening of their businesses. DPIE Headquarters in Largo remains closed to the public, so we continue to use enhanced technology to perform many tasks, even as we increase our operations in the field. As the public reemerges, we will be right there helping you bring your projects to fruition while making sure our commercial and residential properties remain compliant with County Code.

Continue to reach out and tell us how we can help!

Director Melinda Bolling's signature block

Zoning — The Agency's Code Authority for Commercial and Industrial Businesses

Zoning Senior Inspectors Larry Long and Gabe Bejarano review inspection results with a restaurant manager.

Zoning Inspector Sam Cappetta looked out on the horizon of the District Heights industrial lot and shook his head. Before him, a dumpster was overflowing with trash and debris. Old construction waste was strewn about the lot nearby.

“A lot of these businesses need to be cleaned up,” said Cappetta. “We spend a lot of time working with these owners to make them understand they are responsible for keeping the areas around their businesses clean.”

Members of the Enforcement Division’s Zoning Unit spend their days inspecting commercial and industrial properties to ensure compliance with County Code. They investigate to make sure businesses are operating in agreement with their Use and Occupancy Permit (U&O) requirements. They also keep an eye out for violations involving property maintenance.

On a recent afternoon, Inspector Larry Long visited a community in Hyattsville where residents have complained about a lot owner using it to store vehicles. DPIE has issued more than $4,000 in fines to the owner and referred the case for court adjudication.

“We wish it were as simple as issuing violation notices to get them to comply, but sometimes it takes a judge’s order to get these businesses to do what they need to do,” said Long. “Sometimes reporting citizens will complain that nothing has been done when the property isn’t immediately brought into compliance. But sometimes we have to wait. Once it’s been scheduled for court, our hands are tied until the case is heard.”

In recent months, the Zoning Unit has investigated cafés operating inside apartments, auto shops set up in home garages, a club operating out of a multifamily building and a mansion being used to hold pay parties. Members of the unit were also part of a program to ensure businesses were complying with social distancing mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zoning inspectors conduct periodic site inspections and respond to complaints from citizens and lawmakers. Inspections are conducted as part of an overall and ongoing departmental enforcement strategy geared to keeping residential, commercial and industrial properties compliant with County Code. Any code violation observed during an inspection may result in the issuance of a Notice of Violation (NOV) or a civil citation to the property owner or other responsible party.

The NOV or citation references the violation(s) of the County Code and the length of time allotted for the responsible person to bring the property into compliance. At the end of that period, the inspector conducts a follow-up inspection. If the violations have not been abated, additional action will be taken.

pic of overflowing dumptster and piles of trash. Inspector Sam Cappetta photo documents trash and debris litter violation.

DPIE Stands Ready to Assist Businesses Constructing the County’s Future

Grand Slam PowerPoint cover by Economic Development Corporation.

Economic Development is Agency Focus as DPIE Turns 8

DPIE opened in 2013 with a mandate to streamline government operations in permitting, business licensing, inspection, property maintenance and code enforcement. One of the agency’s top priorities is working with entrepreneurs. DPIE offers several initiatives for businesses:

Business Development Section (BDS)The BDS was created to help spur economic development by assisting the County’s business partners. The team serves as a contact between businesses and staff and liaises with other government agencies on behalf of entrepreneurs. They offer webinars, trainings and a monthly BDS newsletter. For more information, email DPIEBIZDEV@co.pg.md.us.

Construction Meetings:  DPIE staff conduct meetings with developers and contractors at each phase of development – including pre-plan submittal, preconstruction and as projects progress – to facilitate tasks and address problems and concerns.

ePlan:  ePlan streamlines the permit application process and submittal of required plans for projects large and small. An ePlan Applicant User Guide answers questions about the process. An ePlan System Applicant Training video is posted, and free, monthly virtual ePlan trainings are offered.

The Mega Projects Suite:  The Mega Projects Suite was created to assist commercial customers in obtaining required permits. The program serves as a resource for commercial property owners, designers, developers, contractors and others. For information, call 301-636-2050, ext. 5.

The Peer Review Process (PRP):  Under Mega Projects, DPIE offers the PRP, which reduces the time for review and approval of submitted construction plans by allowing applicants to select DPIE-certified peer reviewers at their own cost to expedite plan review, in lieu of County staff. Peer reviewers can be utilized for various types of buildings and site development projects.

The Third-Party Plan Review Program (TPPRP):  Another Mega Projects Suite program is the TPPRP, which allows businesses to hire DPIE-authorized review agents at their own expense to review and approve drawings of building projects, in lieu of County staff. The program can be utilized for multifamily residential and commercial design-build projects with multiple phases and reduces plan review time.

The Third-Party Inspections Program (TPIP)The Inspections Division’s TPIP provides the framework for third-party inspection agents hired by the owner at their own expense to evaluate the work of the various trades.

Maryland Public Information Act Requests (MPIA)DPIE provides documents — permits, licenses, property maintenance reports, etc. — to entities or persons interested in researching the permit history, code enforcement issues and more on properties.

Visit the DPIE website at dpie.mypgc.us for more information.

Keep County Business Properties Clean — Dispose of Trash Responsibly

Dispose of trash responsibly – 2 pictures of overflowing trashing can, 1 by the air pump; one a close-up of the litter.

The Zoning Unit of the DPIE Enforcement Division works with businesses to address property maintenance problems, including trash and debris accumulation. Property owners and managers are responsible for keeping their properties clear of unsightly litter. Trash receptacles should be sufficient to prevent spillover that creates litter. The areas around them should be picked up regularly. Failing to maintain a trash-free property is a violation of County Code punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 per violation. Citizens should assist by refraining from littering and properly disposing of trash while visiting commercial properties.

Business Owners and Managers are Responsible for Keeping Commercial Properties Compliant

Pic of huge amounts of trash overflowing dumpster on the ground and parking lot. Business cited for violations related to trash and debris.

Frequent Complaints About Commercial Businesses

  1. Trash and debris in the parking areas
  2. Overflowing trash receptacles
  3. Shopping carts in the parking lot and nearby areas
  4. Inadequate lighting
  5. Signage posted without proper permits
  6. Illegal signs for outside businesses posted
  7. Maintenance issues – peeling paint, broken windows, downspouts and gutters in disrepair, open storage, etc.
  8. Parking lots with inappropriately painted spaces
  9. Business operating without a valid U&O Permit
  10. Loitering by boisterous customers and panhandlers

Commercial Property Maintenance FAQ’s

Q:  Who is responsibility for the upkeep of shopping centers, like painting it and picking up the trash?
A:  The property owner has overall responsibility for the maintenance of the property and for ensuring that the tenants abide by County Code requirements.

Q:  What is the process to complain about a commercial property?
A: Complaints should be reported to 311. Once the complaint is forwarded to DPIE, an inspector will respond to the property, determine if a violation exists and take appropriate enforcement action.

Q: Do you need a license to run a store at a shopping center or mini mall?
A: Every building and tenant in Prince George's County, with the exception of property within the City of Laurel, is required to have a valid County-issued Use and Occupancy Permit (U&O) before the business may operate. The U&O process verifies conformance with the applicable County and State requirements. See DPIE’s U&O page for details.

Q:  How are fines assessed for violations of County Code on commercial properties?
A: Zoning and property maintenance violations carry a different fine amount, based on the violation as set forth in the County Code. The time allowed to correct violations also varies.

Q:  What happens if the violations are not corrected and fines are not paid?
A:  For properties that are not brought into compliance, violations may be abated by the County. Under DPIE’s “Clean It and Lien It!” Program, a contractor is hired to make the necessary changes to bring the property into compliance, then a lien is placed on the property to recoup the cost.

Q: How frequently does DPIE patrol shopping centers and other commercial properties to make sure they are kept clean?
A: DPIE inspectors are assigned to specific areas. They regularly inspect those areas to check for compliance. We also encourage citizens to report code violation concerns to 311.

Access the County Code to Research Requirements

Improperly Installed Fences May Cause Drainage Problems and Flooding!

Every time it rains, many homeowners experience drainage issues on their properties. Some of these drainage complaints result from improperly installed fences. An improperly installed fence can block storm flows — runoff from storm precipitation — and cause water to pond in your yard or your neighbor’s yard. Blocked water can damage fences, draw mosquitoes and hasten lawn erosion.

Fences must be installed with storm flows in mindto ensure fences don’t block stormwater flows!

Prince George’s County Code requires fences to be installed according to the following criteria:

1. For fences that cross swales — little streams on your lawn that collect stormwater — the bottom of the fence must be raised at least 6 (six) inches above the bottom of the swale, also called the "invert" of the swale. See the diagram.

2. To prevent surface stormwater — also called sheet flow — from being blocked by fences, fences should be constructed at least 1 (one) inch above the ground level, as shown in the diagram.

Storm flow drainage under fence diagram

Remember, fences can impede stormwater flow and cause damage to your yard or your neighbor’s yard. Build fences according to County Code to avoid drainage issues, mosquitoes and expensive repairs!

Visit the DPIE website at dpie.mypgc.us and see the reports below for more information:

•  Drainage and Flooding in Prince George’s County
•  DPIE’s Drainage Defects Complaint Program (for new homes)
•  Information about Flooding and Flood Insurance
•  DPIE Under Construction Newsletter May 2021
•  Prince George’s County Stormwater Management Design Manual

Change in Electrical Licenses

lightning bolt on blue circle representing electrical

Effective July 1, 2021, Prince George’s County no longer issues licenses for Master Electricians, Journeyman Electricians, Apprentice Electricians and Electrical Contractors. We will continue to issue licenses for Master Electrician — Limited and Electrical Contractors — Limited.

Master Electricians who need to apply for electrical permits now are required to provide proof of a valid State of Maryland Master Electrician’s License, a copy of their valid driver’s license, and the "Electronic Signature Acknowledgement Form" (available on DPIE's Electrical Permits page).

For questions, email Business Licenses at:  DPIEBusinessLicenses@co.pg.md.us.

DPIE People

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.

Sheyenne Stubbs

Sheyenne Stubbs, Building Plan Review Division — Environmental Health Specialist I, 6/21/2021

Sheyenne is new to the area but definitely not new to the profession. She comes from a small town in New Jersey with a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Health. Moving to a different state is a big leap for her, but she is looking forward to learning the area and creating a life for herself in Maryland. 

Jaelyn Seals

Jaelyn Seals
, Permitting and Licensing Division — Engineering Technician I, 6/21/2021

Jaelyn started working for DPIE as a 1,000-hour employee before she was hired as a permanent member of the staff. She is very passionate about this job and considers herself to be hardworking, reliable and cooperative.

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text

Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) Interns

DPIE welcomes the following interns who will be working with agency personnel this summer:

Jevon Brooks — Enforcement Division
John Davis — Permitting and Licensing Division
Amya Ellis — Permitting and Licensing Division
Logan Fitzgerald — Permitting and Licensing Division
Kristin Greene — Building Plan Review Division
Jada Hill — Enforcement Division
Terrell Lawrence — Enforcement Division
Darius McClary — Information Technology Division
Nakiya Moss — Director’s Office
Ololade Odutola — Permitting and Licensing Division
Ryan Smith — Site/Road Plan Review Division
Dennis Stokes — Information Technology Division
Jada Young — Enforcement Division

Congratulations banner


DPIE celebrates the following employees for outstanding achievement and congratulates them on their success!

The DPIE family grew by a tiny bit on July 1 when Site/Road Engineer Haweni Gobena and her husband Elias Taddesse welcomed daughter Zema Elias. Zema means “melody.” Baby and parents are doing well. Little Zema is looking forward to her first Zoom call and learning to review plans.

Baby Zema sleeping with large pink bow on her hat
Eric Wardford, winner, and 2 competitors in bodybuilding competition

Eric Wardford, Director’s Office — Adjudications Administrator

In June, Eric (center) competed in the Maryland State/East Coast Classic Championships for bodybuilding. He won first place in all his categories and the overall championship Men’s Physique award. Earlier this month, he came in third place at the National Physique Committee (NPC) Universe competition in Charleston, South Carolina.

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text

Employee of the Month

Scott Long

DPIE Congratulates Scott Long, Employee of the Month for July 2021

Scott Long is a Construction Standards Inspector II in the Inspections Division. He is being recognized for team work, dedication, excellent customer service, and for being a role model to his coworkers. He is always positive and ready to assist, train and mentor. According to Scott, “There is always a way to get something done, even when it doesn’t seem so. If you need help, you only have to call.”

DPIE commends you for your exceptional performance!

Apply for Emergency Rental Assistance Program — Money Still Available!


Traducción disponible haciendo clic en la ventana emergente Habilitar Google Translate en la parte inferior de la pantalla de la computadora.

The Prince George’s County Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) offers relief to landlords on behalf of renters and tenants experiencing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). This project is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number ERA0202 awarded to Prince George’s County, MD Government by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. For more information and to apply, visit https://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/3703/Emergency-Rental-Assistance-Program

Please see the flyer below in reference to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The U.S. Treasury has revised some of its guidelines for the program and this revised flyer reflects the new information. DHCD wants to assist as many tenants and landlords as possible with the available funding.

ERAP Housing Assistance flyer

Get Vaccinated, Stay Safe!

Get vaccinated- stay safe. Young adults enjoying each other's company