Under Construction Newsletter, September 2022

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

September 2022

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text

Message from the Director

DPIE Director Melinda Bolling

Each day, my staff receives dozens of requests for assistance. On a recent day, we responded to the following requests, among many others:

•  An escrow company requested a list of property maintenance violations on a Hyattsville apartment complex

•  A Laurel business owner requested assistance in completing his permit application

•  An Oxon Hill community leader asked for an investigation into a house she suspected of being occupied by trespassers

•  A Camp Springs homeowner requested an inquiry into an illegal street “pop-up” auto repair shop

Customers and supervisors were pleased with the assistance rendered by our team. In coming issues, we will spotlight some of the more complicated cases we've handled recently that were spurred by citizen complaints. Please continue to report violations to PGC311 and to contact us with requests for assistance.

We are proud to serve you!

DPIE Director Melinda Bollings signature block

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text


spacer bar between articles, no image, no text

Third-Thursday Community Information Sessions

Coming September 15: Open Forum

Third-Thursday Community Session VIRTUAL OPEN FORUM flyer, pic of chickens, presentation to address resident concerns and questionsspacer bar between articles, no image, no textspacer bar between articles, no image, no textspacer bar between articles, no image, no textDPIE blue and green rule

Save the Date!

Fall 2022 Virtual Community Partners Meeting

DPIE, DoE and DPW&T invite you to join us as we share
information about programs, services and new initiatives!

Wednesday, September 28, 2022, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Register for the Zoom meeting at https://bit.ly/3RvCDfR.
Once you register, meeting information will be provided.

Email DPIEPIO@co.pg.md.us for more information.

spacer bar between articles, no image, no textDPIE blue and green rulespacer bar between articles, no image, no text

spacer bar between articles, no image, no textDecks falling due to slope failure and ground pulling away from foundations of some of the townhouses.

Among the issues DPIE inspectors addressed at Patriots Landing were decks falling due to slope failure.

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text

Customer Service Success Stories

Inspectors Rescue Patriots Landing Owners from Home-Buying Disaster

The Patriots Landing development, aka Columbia Run, was conceived as a small complex of townhouses on five acres at the intersection of Maury Avenue and Irvington Street in the Glassmanor neighborhood of Oxon Hill, an area slated for economic development several years ago by County officials as part of an effort to upgrade some inside-the-Beltway communities.

After owners began moving in, some noticed the land behind their townhouses started to shift and their foundations began to crack. A broken water pipe caused flooding and faster shifting in other places. Decks at some of the homes began to lean.

Residents reached out to DPIE to report construction-related issues inside and outside of their homes. Inspections Division Assistant Associate Director George Holmes assigned construction standards inspectors to investigate the complaints and document any deficiencies. Routinely, DPIE responds to such complaints within two days.

“DPIE receives complaints regularly of deficiencies in new developments – commercial and residential,” Holmes said. “The agency’s role in such cases is to identify the problems and spur the developer to make the changes that address the residents’ complaints.”

Several inspectors were assigned to the Patriots Landing case. Site/Road inspectors investigated problems with streets, land and grading. Building inspectors worked on problems with structures.

“There were some significant things going on,” said Code Enforcement Officer Joe Busby, who supervises Building inspectors. The team on the Patriots Landing case included Supervising Inspector Omobola “Moby” Sokoya, Site Inspector Joe Brown and Building Inspector Tom Jenkins.

“The shifting of the ground caused the decks on the back of some of the townhouses to lean, so the developer had to dismantle and remove all the decks. One section of townhouses had to be stabilized with helical piers because the back yards were shifting downhill...A wall had to be added to the back of the properties to stop the movement of the ground,” he said.

Holmes said problems with construction projects result from several factors: substandard materials, builders trying to save money or time by cutting corners and even a contractor’s lack of attention to certain details. DPIE is authorized to issue a Stop Work Order, shutting a project down until plans are submitted to mitigate problems; a Correction Order, outlining required repairs and fines for the violations; and/or a Building Violation Notice (BVN), the most serious order, which lays out deficiencies and DPIE’s intention to take the builder to court, Holmes said.

Patriots Landing received several orders and thousands in penalties and fines.

DPIE Boards and Commissions Administrator Michelle Lyons was bombarded by emails and calls from disgruntled owners, as well. She referred the case to the County Building Board, which provides for the licensing and regulation of residential building contracts in Prince George's.

The list of complaints from owners was long, DPIE staff said. Several months after some of the property owners had done their final walk-throughs with the project manager, their requested repairs had not been made.

“There were leaking roofs, streets not completed, decks falling, and lots were flooding,” Lyons recalled. “The residents couldn’t get County services because the streets were not completed. It was horrible. These were brand new homes. They couldn’t use their back yards because of sink holes.”

The builder was ordered to hire a geotechnical engineer and other professionals to establish an action plan to address deficiencies. DPIE expedited plan review and permit approval to allow repairs to take place expeditiously.

About one-third of the development’s townhomes required repairs, Busby said.

“That was a big case for DPIE,” said Busby. “The people whose townhouses had problems had to go through this ordeal for three years. It should not have happened. I know this County needs growth and expansion, but the people who live here should get the best. They are the ones who are going to be living in these houses for the next 10, 20, 30 years or more. Their families are going to grow up in these houses. For us to ensure property owners are going into a house that is safe and well-built is the best thing we can do.”

Lyons said cases like Patriots Landing demonstrate the County’s diligence in providing excellent customer service to residents — even in the most complicated situations.

“These were beautiful homes purchased by people who were excited to become homeowners. All of them were young, first-time buyers,” Lyons said. “They didn’t get a quality product until we stepped in. Buying a home is the most expensive investment you’ll ever make, and to get a substandard product is not acceptable in Prince George’s County.”

Townhomes from the back after the decks had been removed and the slope failure repaired.

The ground behind several townhomes in the Oxon Hill community pulled away from foundations as shown at left. Damaged decks were removed and the slope failure was repaired, setting the stage for the installation of new decks in coming months.

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text

Open Storage: Common Code Violation, Source of Anger and Anguish for Neighbors

Mattresses and other junk strewn across patio in back of house are an open storage violation

An old sofa litters the back yard of a property. Old mattresses are stacked with trash bags behind a house. Construction materials and cans half-filled with paint are dumped on the side of a house. All three cases are categorized as “open storage,” a violation of Prince George’s County Code.

According to the code section addressing open storage: All exterior property and premises shall be maintained in a clean, safe, and sanitary condition…Except as otherwise specifically authorized by law, the open storage on residential property of any household appliance, motor vehicle parts, building materials, furniture, weeds, dead trees, garbage, rubbish, or similar items or materials, or residue therefrom, is prohibited, regardless of age or condition."

“Open storage is one of the most frequent violations we see because some people don’t associate keeping things in their yards that not are not technically trash or debris with being a code violation,” said Code Enforcement Officer Ronnie Twine, who supervisors the Enforcement Division’s Single-Family Housing Unit, inspectors who respond frequently to such complaints.

A violation for open storage will result in the issuance of an administrative citation, which carries a $300 fine, Twine said.

Open storage is also a problem for business managers and owners. Commercial property owners must be vigilant about keeping their properties free of open storage, as well. A gas station manager recently contacted DPIE to complain about people leaving old furniture, construction materials and “other junk,” as he categorized it – items that would result in an open storage violation during an inspection – on the property. He asked for assistance with stopping people from bringing the items onto his lot. A DPIE supervisor suggested he consider posting “No Trespassing” and “No Dumping” signs, install security cameras to capture the exterior of the property thoroughly and ensure the station property has adequate lighting.

Inspectors said business managers and owners are responsible for checking their properties and keeping them free of open storage, trash and debris and dumping. They urged commercial property owners to make sure their lots are checked regularly and have a process in place to address any open storage found as soon as possible.

Twine offered homeowners a tip to avoid the $300 open storage penalty.

“If it’s not lawn furniture, a grill or a County trash or recycling container, it should be put away,” Twine said.

For more information about maintaining your property in compliance with County Code, visit the Single Family and Multifamily Enforcement page of the DPIE website.

Open storage violation - cars and trucks parked all over the grassspacer bar between articles, no image, no text

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text

DPIE in the Neighborhood

Inspector Maria Hyatt (left) and Inspector Katherine Davis chatted with County Council Chair Calvin Hawkins (right)

DPIE staff members frequently attend public community events to meet citizens and hear their concerns. Enforcement Division Supervisory Inspector Maria Hyatt (left) and Inspector Katherine Davis, a new member of the DPIE team, chatted recently with County Council Chair Calvin Hawkins (right) at a “Stop the Violence March” organized by Council Vice-Chair Sydney Harrison. The Council District 9 event was called by Harrison to focus on efforts to stem violence in his district. About 100 people braved the heat to attend the march. “It was a good event, well attended,” Hyatt said. “It is always good to be out with the citizens to hear from them directly.” Contact DPIEPIO@co.pg.md.us for information about having a DPIE staff member attend an event.

2 photos of crowds being addressed while DPIE is in the neighborhoodspacer bar between articles, no image, no text

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text

Who Handles That?

The following information will help you access the appropriate County agency to address your questions or concerns about a variety of topics. Remember, requests for assistance should always initially be reported to PGC311.

Animal Concerns, chart of agency responsibilitiesVehicles, chart of agency responsibilitiesDumping, chart of agency responsibilitiesSigns, chart of agency responsibilitiesParking Complaints, chart of agency responsibilitiesspacer bar between articles, no image, no text

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text

DPIE Alert: Storms

As the nation is pounded by storms causing devastating floods, DPIE urges you to take action to protect your home and commercial property from heavy rains and high winds.

Alert flyer to protect property during stormsspacer bar between articles, no image, no text

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text

In Case You Missed It. . .

Who Handles That opening slide of PowerPoint on agency responsibilities for servicesspacer bar between articles, no image, no text

Our August 18th Third-Thursday Community Information Session reviewed which government agency is responsible for investigating certain citizen complaints such as flooding issues in new home developments, vehicle violations and noise complaints. Portions of the presentation are posted in this issue of Under Construction. Access the entire PowerPoint presentation — entitled "Who Handles That?" — by clicking the link or the above cover slide.

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text

Name That Violation Contest!

spacer bar between articles, no image, no textName that Violation marquee banner for game

DPIE is holding a monthly contest where we share a photo that contains a property violation of Prince George's County Code. The first person to respond with the correct answer will win one of DPIE's large (13"x10"x15") insulated grocery tote bags with a zipper closure, and your name in next month's Under Construction newsletter.*

*DPIE employees and their family members are not eligible to enter in this promotion.

Carefully study QUIZ PHOTO # 9 below and "Name that Violation" by emailing your best guess to DPIEpio@co.pg.md.us.

spacer bar between articles, no image, no textName that Violation game, photo number 9
County Code violation photo for new quiz question - what is the violation

DPIE Congratulates

Belinda Queen

for correctly identifying the violation
in photo number 8 (shown at right)
in last month's issue of Under Construction.

The answer is shown in the image below.

(DPIE added the ordinance from the Prince George's County Code.)

Name that Violation, Answer to question 8 regarding County Code for Open Storage

New additionsspacer bar between articles, no image, no text

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.

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text
Anderson de Castro

Anderson De Castro, Enforcement Division — Property Standards Inspector, 06/06/2022

Anderson is from New Jersey and has lived in the DMV area for the past 12 years. He previously worked in private industry as a contracted firearms instructor and quality control analyst. He enjoys spending quality time with his family and friends, traveling, lifting weights and martial arts.

No photo submitted, substituted employee pic with photo of field, sunny day

Cedric Tolson, Inspections Division — Construction Standards Inspector, 08/01/2022

Cedric is excited about working for Prince George’s County and making a difference for its citizens!

Vincent Lewis

Vincent Lewis, Enforcement Division — Property Standards Inspector, 08/15/2022

Vincent is a native of Flint, Michigan, who has lived in the Washington, D.C. area for more than 20 years. He worked in public safety for the City of Flint and for FEMA in Disaster Relief. He is a graduate of the Prince George’s College Culinary Arts Program and an avid golfer.

Damian Langston

Damian Langston, Enforcement Division — Property Standards Inspector, 08/15/2022

Damian is looking forward to getting to know all of his colleagues in the Enforcement Division. He retired after serving 29 years in the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services. He has lived in Prince George's County for more than 40 years. He is excited to now serve in the County in which he resides.

Mohamed Bah

Mohamed Bah, Site/Road Plan Review Division — Engineer, 08/15/2022

Mohamed’s interests include traffic and highway engineering, infrastructure planning and travel behavior of diverse populations. During his free time, he enjoys playing soccer and learning about technology.

Thomas Tyler

Thomas Tyler, Site/Road Plan Review Division — Engineer, 08/29/2022

Thomas is a Prince George’s County native with a positive attitude who enjoys working with people. He has been employed as a planner, an inspector and a construction manager.

Thiane Diop

Thiane Diop, Permitting and Licensing Division — Engineering Technician, 08/29/2022

Thiane is a metropolitan Washington-area resident by way of Senegal, West Africa. She is an avid traveler and philanthropist.

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text

Congratulations bannerspacer bar between articles, no image, no text


DPIE promoted the following employees in August 2022.  We would like to recognize and congratulate them for their hard work and commitment.  Keep up the great work!

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text
Henok Fessahaie

Henok Fessahaie, Engineer, 08/14/2022

Henok was promoted to an Engineer 3G in the Building Plan Review Division. He started working for DPIE in 2018.

Maria Smith

Maria Smith, Engineering, 08/28/2022

Maria was promoted to an Engineering Technician 1A in the Building Plan Review Division. She started working for the Department of Environmental Resources (DER), the precursor to DPIE, in 2001.

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text

Employee of the Month

spacer bar between articles, no image, no text
Robin McLean, employee of the month for September

DPIE Congratulates Robin McLean
Employee of the Month
September 2022

Robin is an Administrative Aide IV in the Permitting and Licensing Division. She is being recognized for her positive work ethic, leadership, and support for others. She has an exceptional ability to manage multiple tasks on behalf of senior managers, staff, and customers. Robin embraces new ideas, processes and technology. Her knowledge of the permit process helps her to provide excellent customer service to internal and external customers alike.

DPIE celebrates Robin for her excellent performance!

spacer bar between articles, no image, no textLabor Day with hard hat over the wordsspacer bar between articles, no image, no textspacer bar between articles, no image, no textspacer bar between articles, no image, no textRosh Hashanah words with apple, jar of honey, and persimmonspacer bar between articles, no image, no text