Prince George’s officials say their new permitting office is expected to open for business Monday.
The Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement, at 9400 Peppercorn Place in Largo, is designed to be a one-stop location where residents and businesses can apply for and obtain permits and licenses. Previously that required separate trips to Largo and Upper Marlboro, and sometimes Laurel and Baltimore, depending on what was needed.
The new department also will conduct commercial and residential property inspections, and enforce property standards.
It combines functions from the county’s public works, environment, health, fire and planning departments, among others.
Many permit and license applications will be accessible online within the first year, said DPIE Acting Director Haitham Hijazi. (The county is also in the process of redoing its Web site).
Hijazi, who until recently was head of the county’s public works department, told officials and business leaders at a reception Thursday night that the new system is a work in progress and that he expects there will be a period needed to work out kinks.
“This is a step forward in the history of this county,” said Hijazi as he showed off the redesigned offices, housed in the same building where many permits used to be processed.
“We are not going to be able to do it alone. We need your help,” he told about 100 people who had gathered for a reception. Hijazi was nominated by County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) to head the new agency, subject to County Council confirmation.
The county consulted extensively with businesses and others who have dealt with the county’s permitting system over the past year to determine how to remake the system.
Carla Reid, a deputy chief administrative officer who led the redo with Hijazi, has said that the county was getting “an A-plus in complexity” and that its system needed to be revamped.
Baker said he hoped the remaking of the permitting agency would “go down as a signature initiative.” He likened it to his plans to remake the public schools, improve public safety, and build a new hospital and health care system in the county.
Baker also recognized longtime public works employee Joseph Fletcher, 68, a light-equipment operator who has worked for the county for 49 years, beginning as a laborer in 1964. Fletcher said he had been through many administrations in county government, and that he often encouraged supervisors and co-workers to improve systems and work methods.
“We have got to get the ball rolling,” Fletcher said he has repeatedly urged. “We are going to get it together. That is what we are.”
A ribbon-cutting for the new office is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday. Among those expected to attend along with Baker, Hijazi and Reid, are Hillary P. Colt, vice president of the executive committee of the Maryland-National Capital Building Industry Association; Earle Gumbs, a longtime community activist in Hillcrest Heights; David Harrington, president and CEO of the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce; and Prince George’s County Council Chair Andrea Harrison (D-Springdale).