Update: Proposal to legalize chickens in Hyattsville delayed

Hyattsville City Council has delayed consideration of the measure. The measure was removed from the agenda late into City Council’s Feb. 18, 2020, meeting. The meeting was approaching midnight, and the measure’s sponsor pulled it from the agenda for the sake of time. The proposal is expected to come back before City Council at its next meeting.

Transparency? Hyattsville refuses to talk tasers with Route 1 Reporter

Last year, Leonard Shand was killed in a hail of gunfire by police in Hyattsville after a 30-minute walking standoff. That day, before the shooting, police tried unsuccessfully to tase Shand three times. That aspect of the events leading up to Shand’s death led Route 1 Reporter to file a Public Information Act request with city officials seeking documents quantifying and detailing all taser misfires between January 2010 and December 2018. Earlier this week, after paying $480 in fees (thank you subscribers), Hyattsville officials turned over dozens of pages of use-of-force reports and technical reports filed by city police officers. 

Now, Hyattsville officials say they decline to speak with Route 1 Reporter about the contents of those documents. That should be troubling for government transparency advocates and police reform activists looking for the city to make good on its “commitment to transparency”. 

Already, Hyattsville city officials have been selective with their disclosures about the incident in a cynical attempt to manage public relations.

Hyattsville gets $339,500 for Call-A-Bus program

Hyattsville has received a $339,500 grant to boost its accessible transportation options. The grant is from the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board for the Enhanced Mobility Grants Program. With the funds, Hyattsville officials plan to expand its curb-to-curb and shared-ride transportation by buying new wheelchair accessible buses and tweaking existing agreements with Route 1 Corridor Villages for residents of Hyattsville and neighboring communities. The initiative is a part of the City’s three-year Age-Friendly Action Plan, designed to make Hyattsville a more livable community for seniors and people with disabilities. The Age-Friendly Action Plan was adopted by Hyattsville Council in January 2019.

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.