Program Will Streamline Adjudication of Code Enforcement Violations
The Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement (DPIE) has started a new program to reduce the time it takes for property standards citations to be adjudicated. The Administrative Hearing Process will allow hearing officers to adjudicate citations issued for properties in violation of Prince George’s County code, instead of waiting for courts to hear the cases.
Dozens of times each day in Prince George’s County, codes and property standards are violated, leaving homeowners and business leaders frustrated. The current process takes as long as nine months from the time a complaint is received to the time the respondent appears in District Court for a final disposition. The Administrative Hearing Process was created in response to legislation passed by the County Council in 2017 – CB-64-2017.
“The objective is to streamline the process,” said Adjudications Administrator Eric Wardford. “Currently, it takes too long to get these cases into court. This process will exponentially speed up the time it takes to adjudicate these matters.”
The process will be implemented in stages, with certain jurisdictions targeted for the first phase, which began August 1 with DPIE property standards inspectors issuing citations in those areas. The process will be operational County-wide by early 2019. The first hearings will be held in September 2018.
The hearing officers are trained attorneys who have the power to issue summonses, notices and default orders for noncompliance. They will handle complaints about unlicensed vehicles; debris; tall grass and weeds; commercial vehicles on residential property; and other property standards issues.
“This new Administrative Hearing Process will benefit our citizens, neighborhoods and businesses and offers the County a powerful tool that will resolve property standard issues much more expeditiously,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III.
Citizens with complaints about code violations should call 311 to make their initial report. The calls will be forwarded to DPIE. Citations will be issued to the property owner, who can request a hearing within 30 days of the issuance of a citation. The hearings will be held within 30 days of a request.
Testimony and evidence will be presented at the hearings. The hearing officer will issue a decision within five days. If the respondent is held liable, civil and monetary fines can be assessed and the respondent will be ordered to abate the violation.
Parties aggrieved by the decision have the right to request reconsideration by the adjudications administrator. The administrator’s decisions can be appealed to the Prince George’s County Nuisance Abatement Board. That board’s decisions can be appealed to the Prince George’s Circuit Court.
Wardford, the adjudications administrator, is an attorney who previously served as a hearing examiner with the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles and the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services (DYRS).
The hearings will take place at DPIE headquarters, 9400 Peppercorn Place, Suite 500, in Largo.