Hyattsville might legalize backyard chickens

Hyattsville officials will consider repealing city laws prohibiting residents from raising chickens. At its Jan. 21, 2020, meeting, Hyattsville City Council will consider the aptly-named “Backyard Chicken Act,” which would strike “domestic fowl” and “poultry and game birds” from the list of animals prohibited in the city. 

Roosters, however, will remain banned. 

“Chicken raising is an enjoyable recreational activity that provides a healthy food source, high-quality fertilizer, fosters community building, and, with proper regulations, does not result in unsanitary or noisy conditions,” reads a summary of the legislation, introduced by freshman City Councilor Danny Schaible. But backyard chickens are also outlawed at the County level. Hyattsville’s Backyard Chicken Act, if passed, would not change that.

Preliminary Northgate plans approved

Prince George’s County Planning Board unanimously approved, with minor conditions, preliminary plans for a nearly-300-unit student housing complex near the intersection of Berwyn Road and Baltimore Avenue in College Park. The site is currently home to an abandoned restaurant and a Burger King. The next step is to get more fine-tuned plans approved by county officials. The project’s detailed site plan application was filed in late November, and is expected to be considered at the Planning Board’s Jan. 23, 2019, meeting.

UMD Idea Factory gets Planning Board OK

The Prince George’s County Planning Board unanimously approved plans to build a new, futuristic-looking engineering facility on College Park’s University of Maryland campus. The E.A. Fernandez Idea Factory plans include a new five-story 61,240 square foot building connected to the Kim Engineering Building by a pedestrian bridge. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it will include workspaces for students, areas for student competition teams and a new home for UMD’s student-run incubator, Startup Shell. In all, the building is expected to cost $50 million to build. Another rendering shows the Idea Factory from Stadium Drive

It will also be home to the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center, the Robotics Realization Laboratory, the Quantum Technology Center and other laboratory spaces.

Mount Rainier City Hall is seen from the distance on a bright sunny day. Solar panels top the roof.

Stale email cost Mount Rainier solar panel money

For the better part of a decade, Mount Rainier missed out on revenue it could have earned from the solar panels topping its City Hall, city officials revealed in passing Tuesday. That’s because the energy broker – or “aggregator” – the city worked with to sell the solar power generated from those panels didn’t have an up-to-date email address to communicate with city officials.

Tweaks in store for College Park Southern Gateway

The development team behind the College Park Southern Gateway project is making some tweaks to its plans that will slightly reduce the retail space available at the site. 

The College Park Southern Gateway project would redevelop a now-vacant collection of properties that include the former Platos Restaurant and a Quality Inn along the city’s southern Baltimore Avenue corridor near Calvert Road. When finished, it will have 393 market-rate units, 70,000 square-feet of retail, a 230,000 square-foot parking garage, and is planned to be anchored by a large grocery store. In 2018, the project, backed by multifamily development titan Bozzuto, received tax incentives from College Park City Council and County Council. 

Officials with Bozzuto tell Route 1 Reporter construction is anticipated to begin this Spring. Procedurally, this is an amendment to the original detailed site plan for the project. The amendment would change the layout of the retail along Baltimore Avenue south a planned extension of Calvert Drive on the eastern side of Baltimore Avenue. 

In total, the layout changes will result in a slight deduction in the retail square footage.

Metrorail cars parked in Hyattsville could become bar, somewhere

Since at least September 2019, two retired Washington Metro railcars have been collecting dust – and a bit of graffiti – in an abandoned gas station lot near the West Hyattsville Metro station on Ager Road. But someday, somewhere, they might be transformed into a bar or restaurant, presumably gracing the grounds of a hip new development. By chance, Route 1 Reporter happened upon the cars Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, as workers appeared to be preparing them for transport. The cars bear the serial numbers 5059 and 5058, and the work underway appeared to be cutting each car in half to fit on wide-load trailers.

Hyattsville pushed to share police shooting body-cam video

Hyattsville city officials say they are open to allowing Mount Rainier city officials to review video from Hyattsville police body cameras showing the events leading up to the fatal police shooting of Leonard Shand. The move comes after Mount Rainier City Councilor Scott Cecil, speaking during public comment at Hyattsville’s Jan. 6, 2019, City Council meeting, complained that Hyattsville officials had not responded to earlier requests from himself and Mount Rainier Chief of Police Anthony Morgan to review the footage, which had already been screened by Hyattsville city officials to members of Hyattsville’s City Council and to the president of the Prince George’s Count NAACP. 

“Many local residents were horrified, confused and concerned by this incident. They’re looking for transparency, which is rooted in civilian oversight from each of us,” said Cecil during the meeting. “I’ve reviewed the body camera footage from our officer on two occasions and I’m left with many questions.