Elected officials, staff and members of the development services community recently came together to kick off Building Safety Month, which occurs each May, with an event on the Sean T. Connaughton Plaza. The purpose of this campaign is to bring awareness to the importance of code enforcement officials and the impact they have on creating safe and sustainable structures. This year's Building Safety Month theme is Code Officials – Partners in Community Safety and Economic Growth.
Jim Mertz, vice president of Retail Development for the Peterson Companies, which developed the promenade section of Virginia Gateway in the western end of the county, told the group that Prince William County makes things easy for developers and keeps residents safe all at the same time. "As developers, we rely upon our various consultants to make sure that plans are designed with safety in mind. We also count on you, Prince William County staff, to partner with us to review and inspect our projects with safety as the highest priority."
Mertz thanked the staff for the work they put into helping make developers successful. "I can honestly say that due to the relationships and trust that we have in Prince William County, we're going to continue to seek opportunities here. The attitude and the culture that we find in Prince William County is one of how can you help us be successful, not one of throwing up roadblocks. As a developer, time is money. We've got to get to the finish line. Otherwise, our projects could be rendered unsuccessful. I sincerely appreciate the relationships that I have formed with many of you within the county."
Jeff Kaczmarek, the executive director of the County's Department of Economic Development, said the approach development services takes helps make his job of attracting businesses to the county easier. "It's that trust relationship and the ability to solve problems quickly that distinguishes Prince William County from a lot of our other competitors."
Jeanine Lawson, vice chair of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, also thanked the staff and said the "culture and attitude" of development services ensures that firms will see Prince William County as a good place to do business. "We just want to thank you for all of your hard work. We want to thank you for your commitment to public safety. You work together to bring these businesses to fruition so that they can open the doors and serve the public."
Public safety was also mentioned by Justin Wiley, vice president of Government Relations Planning and Operations for the International Code Council, who said that, while consumers are looking at granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances, code enforcement officials must make sure that buildings are safe. "It's critical to look deeper into the safety and integrity of a structure, ensuring that the community and the consumers are safe. It would do us no good in developing communities without making sure that they're safe."
Wade Hugh, the director of Development Services, said the work to get developments underway and completed is a collaboration between developers and the development services agencies in the county. "The success that we have is really based on the partnerships we have with everyone out there, all the different organizations — the Fire Marshal's Office, Development Services, the Planning Office, Public Works Department and Neighborhood Services. It's all of us working together. I think that's what sets us apart from other jurisdictions."
For more information about development services in the county, visit www.pwcgov.org/dds.