Under Construction Newsletter, December 2021

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

December 2021

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Message from the Director

DPIE Director Melinda Bolling

As we look forward to 2022, my team and I are also looking back at the ways we were the most impactful during this last year. One of our most frequent tasks was responding to "bad neighbor issues” — complaints from neighbors reporting violations that create nuisances. Inspectors in the Enforcement Division respond to neighbor complaints daily. We work diligently to educate people about residential and commercial property maintenance code requirements on the DPIE website, in our publications, and in meetings at which we are invited to share information. Owners, managers and tenants have a responsibility to ensure their properties comply with code.

Those whose properties create neighborhood problems may find themselves called before the County Nuisance Abatement Board (NAB). Troubled properties are referred to the NAB by public agencies, such as the police and fire departments and DPIE. The board is empowered to fine owners and even close nuisance businesses. The NAB is highlighted below in a special report. The board is helping to restore the peace in communities plagued by problem properties.

As the holidays approach, make sure to do your winter home maintenance — inside and outside of your house. See our checklist below of things you may want to work on to ensure your home is safe — and compliant with County Code — during the cold weather.

Have a happy holiday season and we look forward to serving you in 2022!

DPIE Director Melinda Bollings signature block


Nuisance Abatement Board Addresses Problems for Public, Returns Communities’ Peace

Michelle Lyons, Administrator of the Nuisance Abatement Board

The BP gas station at 6701 Walker Mill Road in Capitol Heights had been the subject of more than 1,400 calls to police. There were complaints about littering, loitering and disturbing the peace. State alcohol and tobacco investigators had caught employees illegally selling single cigarettes. County Police had recorded suspected narcotics sales as employees cavorted with the alleged sellers.

In May, a young woman was fatally shot and a young man injured in the parking lot. In late June, shots rang out again.

Nuisance Abatement Board hearing session (from left) DPIE Deputy Director Gary Cunningham, board member, and NAB Administrator Michelle Lyons

Former NAB members DPIE Deputy Director Gary Cunningham (left), Anthony Fazio (center) and Board Administrator Michelle Lyons listen to testimony during a hearing before COVID-19 mandates led to the meetings going online.


On June 21, the gas station’s owner and manager were summoned to appear before the Prince George’s County Nuisance Abatement Board (NAB). The seven-member board, comprised of representatives from DPIE, the Police Department, the Fire Department and citizens appointed by the County Executive, had scheduled a hearing to determine if the gas station’s activities were causing a public nuisance.

After a hearing on June 24, the board ordered the gas station closed until certain conditions are met. The station remained closed as of December 1. The board laid out requirements for the business to reopen, including complying with the terms of its Use and Occupancy Permit, undergoing an inspection with DPIE and police and addressing all zoning and property maintenance issues.

Keeping Properties Nuisance-Free Is the Law

Prince George’s County Code makes it illegal to cause a public nuisance at a residence and to operate a business where activity takes place that creates a nuisance. The NAB was implemented to address such complaints. The board is empowered to levy fines of up to $1,000 and can shutter businesses found to be nuisances, said DPIE Deputy Director Gary Cunningham, who served on the board for several years.

“The language says they can close the establishment until the nuisance is abated and measures are put in place to address future concerns,” Cunningham said.

Cases can be referred to the NAB by DPIE, the police, fire and health departments and the municipalities after two incidents are reported in a year, said NAB Administrator Michelle Lyons. Residents may not request hearings before the NAB and should report concerns of possible nuisances to PGC311.

“Any agency that can issue a violation or a citation can refer a case to the NAB,” Lyons said. “It can be a municipality, and we get a number of referrals from them each year. We’ve had cases from the police and code enforcement officers of the Town of Bladensburg. We recently had a case involving a party house in the City of Bowie. County Council members Jolene Ivey and Deni Taveras recently testified on illegal party house cases in their districts. That’s how heavy these cases have been that involve disruptive behavior in communities.”

The NAB’s hearing process allows both sides of complaints to be heard. Those suspected of creating a nuisance have the right to present their cases and call witnesses. They may have their lawyers present. Complainants have the same rights. Often, dozens of people sign up to testify about how the alleged nuisances are affecting their communities. The hearings have been held virtually since the pandemic led to social distancing mandates. Lyons said the virtual hearings have reduced the intimidation factor and assisted parties in the cases because they don’t have to take off work to participate.

NAB Hears Variety of Complaints

In the last year, the NAB has heard cases involving several illegal nightclubs, including one in an industrial park in Laurel, and so called “party houses,” where owners or landlords hold large parties where admission is charged and food and alcohol are served.

Code Enforcement Officer Bill Edelen, who supervises the Zoning Unit

The parties are noisy and lead to litter and snarled traffic in residential areas not equipped to accommodate the increase in traffic and parking they cause.

The NAB has also recently heard complaints involving business establishments in Suitland illegally selling tobacco products and food without appropriate licenses, said DPIE Code Enforcement Officer Bill Edelen, who supervises the Zoning Unit of the Enforcement Division. Twenty-nine convenience stores were suspected. To date, six have been closed. Hearings on other stores are yet to be held, Edelen said.

Testimony at the hearings can be emotional. Witnesses discuss the frustration of having their once-peaceful neighborhoods negatively impacted by the nuisance properties. Many NAB cases involve code and safety violations. Others involve criminal activity. The board found the Motel 6 in Hampton Park in District Heights was causing a public nuisance because of drug trafficking and prostitution on the premises.

Edelen said the desire to “make quick money” motivates people to hold pay parties and operate illegal clubs. During the COVID shutdown, a tenant at an industrial park on Distribution Place in Laurel operated an illegal club. Doors were locked to keep patrons inside and organizers posted people outside to watch for police. There were several shootings at the site. The landlord took the tenant to Landlord/Tenant Court and was able to get him evicted.

The investigation to prepare for the NAB hearings is extensive, Edelen said. Facts are gathered, witnesses are interviewed, and a report is prepared. Edelen and his unit, as well as officials from the police, fire and health departments testify.

Hearings are usually held on the third Thursday of each month. However, two monthly meetings are held when there are excessive cases. The results of the hearings are announced with 15 days of the hearing.

Edelen said the hearings were especially helpful when the pandemic closed the courts for much of 2020. “This was a tool the County provided that was instrumental in helping to eliminate a lot of these problem cases,” he said.

Board Helps Return Communities to Lawful Citizens

Lyons said she has received numerous thank you letters and messages from citizens who are relieved that the NAB has resolved nuisance cases in their communities.

“Some communities have been terrorized by people committing nuisance behavior who then seek to intimidate their neighbors to prevent them from reporting the problems,” Lyons said. “It makes me proud that the board has been able to help regain residents’ peace in those communities.”

Illegal club closed by DPIE Enforcement inspectors. Pic of basement seating and dark-painted walls.

Illegal club closed by DPIE Enforcement inspectors and the subject of an NAB hearing.

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Keep Your Home Safe and Compliant During Winter

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• Check caulking around sinks and tubs

• Clean clothes dryer lint trap and vent duct

• Clear downspouts and clean out gutters

• Focus on interior home safety issues

• Deep clean interior spaces

• Clean under appliances

• Replace HVAC filters

• Clear areas around heaters

• Check and install holiday lights and decorations

• Clean and organize garages and lube doors

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DPIE Tows Illegally Parked Vehicle During Cleanup

Illegally parked vehicle had expired tags years out of date. A tow truck was called and the vehicle removed under the “Clean It and Lien It!” program.

Vehicle with expired tags was towed under the “Clean It and Lien It!” program.

The Enforcement Division recently contracted with a towing company for the removal of a car illegally parked in a driveway in Bowie as part of the “Clean It and Lien It!" program. Under the program, properties in violation are brought into compliance and liens placed on the properties to recoup the costs for the County. Prince George’s County Code prohibits the parking of unregistered, wrecked or dismantled vehicles. Report suspected illegally parked vehicles to PGC311.


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New Hires

DPIE welcomes the following new hires and congratulates them on joining the team!  The new staffers have shared some information to help us get to know them and their start dates.

Shayan Montazeri, new IT employee, dressed in suit

Shayan Montazeri, Information Technology Division — Information Technology Engineer V, 10/12/2021

Shayan is a highly accomplished IT professional. He is able to develop and design software to meet the professional needs of businesses. He has a background in cloud computing, databases and project management. He enjoys hiking, star gazing, nature and attending astronomy events.

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Nabeel Waseem

Nabeel Waseem, Building Plan Review Division — Engineer V, 11/8/2021

Nabeel serves as the Chief Engineer in Building Plan Review Division. He is a licensed Professional Engineer and a Certified Building Official. He has more than 15 years of experience in the building and fire protection industry. 

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John Makle

John Makle, Permitting and Licensing Division — Engineering Technician I, 11/22/2021

John is a dynamic and confident professional with more than 30 years of diverse, progressive leadership experience in all facets of real property acquisition and disposition. Previously, he served as a construction project manager for a plumbing and heating company. His interests include sports, traveling and entrepreneurship.

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DPIE promoted the following employees in October and November 2021. We would like to recognize and congratulate these employees for their hard work and commitment!

Donald Smith, newly promoted Inspections employee, selfie in car while parked

Donald Smith, Construction Standards Inspector III — Inspections Division, 10/24/2021

Donald was promoted on October 24, 2021. He started working for the Inspections Division in 2018. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and a Prince George’s County native (Hyattsville area).  Donald has more than 25 years experience as a construction manager for home builders.

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William Torrence

William Torrence, Construction Standards Inspector III — Inspections Division, 10/24/2021

William was promoted on October 24, 2021. He started working for the Inspections Division in 2018. He worked for Prince George’s County as a Summer Youth Employee in 2008.

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Calvin Saunders

Calvin Saunders, Property Standards Inspector IV — Enforcement Division, 10/24/2021

Calvin was promoted on October 24, 2021.  He started working for the Enforcement Division in 2016.  Before joining the DPIE, he worked as a fire inspector/fire fighter and retired in 2015.

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Tony Stover

Tony Stover, Engineering Technician I — Permitting and Licensing Division, 11/7/2021

Tony was promoted on November 7, 2021. He started working for DPIE in 2019.

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No photo for employee, picture of field with blue sky and yellow flowers

Dunia Santamaria, Administrative Aide III — Building Plan Review Division, 11/7/2021

Dunia was promoted on November 7, 2021. She started working for DPIE in 2017.

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Employee of the Month

Demetrius Jones, white shirt, blue tie, glasses, November's employee of the month

DPIE Congratulates Demetrius Jones
Employee of the Month for
November 2021

Demetrius is an Engineering Technician III in the Boards and Commissions Section of the Director’s Office and is being recognized as a pillar of professionalism and excellence.  Demetrius is being recognized for outstanding customer service and professionalism.  His positive attitude, superb level of expertise, due diligence and strong work ethic have benefited external customers, and his DPIE colleagues as well. Demetrius is appreciated for his service. 

DPIE commends you for your exceptional performance!

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Save the Date: Winter Community Partners' Meeting

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Holiday Schedule

spacer bar between articles, no image, no textDPIE Happy Holiday wishes, pic of snowman with agency closings on Dec 24 and Dec 31.spacer bar between articles, no image, no text