Hyattsville adds closed-captions to Council webcasts

Hyattsville is testing the use of real-time closed captioning for webcasts of its City Council meetings. The move is notable in Prince George’s County, where few local governments offer closed captioning or picture-in-picture sign-language interpretation of their broadcast proceedings. Prince George’s County Council, Planning Board and Board of Education don’t offer such a service. Among Prince George’s County’s 27 municipalities, only Laurel, Greenbelt, and now Hyattsville offer closed-captioning of their proceedings. Cheverly offers picture-in-picture sign-language interpreters.

Hyattsville and backyard chickens: It’s complicated

Don’t build a chicken coop yet, Hyattsville. It looks like legalizing backyard chickens is going to be more complicated than simply amending the city’s ban on them. At its Jan 21, 2020, Hyattsville City Council meeting, several city officials had issues with the proposal, sponsored by Councilor Daniel Schaible, highlighting in particular that Prince George’s County law still bans backyard domestic fowl. During discussion, concerns were raised about how Hyattsville would govern backyard chickens if municipal prohibitions on them were removed. The long answer, made short, from city officials: it’d be in the hands of County officials to deal with.

Hyattsville won’t share video from fatal police shooting

Hyattsville officials now say they cannot yet share with Mount Rainier officials body camera footage its officers recorded during the events that led to the fatal 2019 police shooting of Leonard Shand. 

In a statement read during Hyattsville’s Jan. 21, 2020, City Council meeting, City Administrator Tracey Douglas said she had been advised against releasing additional information on the incident until after Prince George’s County police completed its investigation into the shooting. Douglas’ statement was a response to a Jan. 6, 2020, request from Mount Rainier City Councilor Scott Cecil to see video from Hyattsville police officers on the scene of Shand’s death. Shand, 49, died after 11 officers, including six from Hyattsville, opened fire him at the end of a half-hour early-morning walking standoff that started Sept.

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.

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.

Transit briefs: Hyattsville eyes bike racks, bus service

Hyattsville is trying to expand its network of familiar yellow bike racks. The first round of this fiscal-year’s bike rack requests have been submitted to Arrow Bicycles for consideration, according to City Administrator Tracey Douglas. Hyattsville partners with Arrow Bicycle on the project. Under Hyattsville Bike Rack Request program, businesses and commercial property owners are able to apply for one or more free bike racks to be installed on or near their properties. The racks must be kept available for public use at any time.

A black metal gate bears a three-panel sign reading, top to bottom, "City of Hyattsville." In the background, bright green leaves.

Responding to Trump, Hyattsville officially open to refugees

It’s official: Hyattsville welcomes refugees to be resettled in its borders by the federal government. The declaration is a new necessity for cities. That’s because President Donald Trump issued an executive order this past September requiring states and local governments to notify the Department of State they consent to resettle refugees within their borders. 

In November, three local organizations that work with refugees – International Rescue Committee, Ethiopian Community Development Council, and Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital –  wrote to Hyattsville officials requesting they issue a consent letter. 

“The three refugee resettlement agencies requesting your consent have resettled refugees in the City of Hyattsville and the surrounding counties for over 13 years,” reads the letter from the nonprofits. “We have helped refugees successfully access housing, healthcare, education and employment with funding from the federal government. Local municipalities like the City of Hyattsville bear none of the cost of resettlement and reap many benefits.”

The measure to issue the letter passed unanimously.