Hyattsville wants clarity for brewpubs in new zoning code

Hyattsville officials are pushing for a small change to the county’s new zoning code to clarify rules around microbreweries and other small-scale alcohol production facilities with restaurants. The crux of the matter is the new zoning code section regulating restaurants and bars requires those with “small scale” alcohol production facilities to devote a minimum of either 1,500 square feet or 45 percent of their total square footage – whichever is greater – to the actual serving of food and drinking of drinks. 

Hyattsville city officials want county officials to add language exempting businesses located in “adaptive reuse” buildings or where “the interior layout of the building makes compliance impractical.”

Specifically to Hyattsville, ambiguity in this area of the regulations could affect a number of businesses. Over the past several years, a number of small alcohol producers, including a meadery, a distillery, and several microbreweries, have set up shop in the city, many in buildings that predate these businesses. Potentially, the new regulations could cause permitting issues in the future, though city staff admitted it would require one to interpret the regulations counter to their intent. 

“We certainly have a few restaurants with alcohol uses within the city that are utilizing older buildings. Many of these buildings are close to 100 years old, and they are adaptive re-uses of buildings” said Jim Chandler, Hyattsville’s Economic Development Director, during a discussion of the proposed tweak at Hyattsville’s Nov.

LGBTQ activists accuse New Carrollton Mayor of bigotry

During a National Coming Out Day Rally in New Carrollton this past Sunday, a small group of LGBTQ activists and Prince George’s County elected officials criticized New Carrollton’s Mayor Phelecia Nembhard, accusing her of making homophobic remarks during a recent public meeting, being dismissive of the concerns of LGBTQ residents, and threatening activists that have planned protests over the remarks. Asked to comment for this article, Nembhard said by email that the accusations of homophobia and intimidation are false. 

“There is no facts to that allegation,” said Nembhard in a brief reply to a request for an interview. 

Nembhard did not rely to a followup request for an interview. Central to this story are comments Nembhard made during a July videoconference meeting of the Four Cities Coalition, a group of elected officials from Greenbelt, College Park, Berwyn Heights and New Carrollton who advocate for common policy goals. During that meeting, a representative from the Prince George’s County Public Schools gave a presentation on the county’s implementation of the Welcoming Schools initiative, a program from the Human Rights Commission intended to prevent bullying of LGBTQ students. 

According to transcripts from the videoconference text-chat function, during that presentation, Nembhard said “I am in total opposition of the teaching of Pre-K students about what they should feel. That is something their parents, pastor or counselor should discuss with them.

Prince Georgians urged to report flood damages

Elected officials up and down Prince George’s Route 1 corridor are pushing residents and businesses to report damages suffered as a result of flooding from a day-long torrential downpour Sept. 10, 2020.   The hope is that enough damage will be reported for county or state officials to release disaster recovery funding. This Thursday, Prince George’s County Office of Emergency Management has launched a digital form to collect data on flood damages. 

The rains hit communities along the inner-Beltway Route 1 corridor particularly hard, with low-lying neighborhoods in College Park, Edmonston, Hyattsville, Riverdale Park, Mount Rainier, Brentwood and North Brentwood experiencing flooding along the banks of Northeastern and Northwestern Branches. Many residents reported rainwater flooding their homes and basements and damaging vehicles. 

Since then, residents in those neighborhoods have complained about a lack of aid from county and state agencies.

Report criticizes police actions in Shand killing

An outside investigation into the fatal police shooting of Leonard Shand found major problems with how police handled the events leading up to Shand’s death, while deeming the shooting itself to be “consistent with accepted standards of police practices.” The full 40-page report is embedded below this article and can be downloaded here. The report was prepared by Powers Consulting Group’s Tyrone Powers, a former FBI agent hired as an outside consultant to review the incident and make recommendations. Powers was on hand to explain the findings of the report during a Sept. 10, 2020, press conference where Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy revealed a grand jury had declined to bring charges against anyone over the incident.

No charges for officers who killed Leonard Shand

Upper Marlboro – A Prince George’s County grand jury has declined to indict any of the police officers who killed Leonard Shand after a half-hour standoff in Hyattsville last year. The announcement was made by Prince George’s County States Attorney Aisha Braveboy during a Sept. 10, 2020, news conference. A report on the incident prepared by an outside use-of-force expert, Baltimore resident and former FBI agent Tyrone Powers, came to the conclusion that Shand’s killing was ultimately justified because he posed a potentially lethal threat to officers. But Powers said the report made several critiques of the police response on the day Shand was killed.

Prince George’s County limits free covid testing

Several Prince George’s County residents say they were recently denied free coronavirus tests from the county Department of Health because of a little-known rule limiting free tests to one-per person. 

The rule surprised County Councilor Deni Taveras, who represents Langley Park and Adelphi neighborhoods hit hard by the pandemic. Taveras said she was denied a test Aug. 5, 2020, at the Rollingcrest Community Center in Chillum because she had already received a free test. One county resident who previously received three tests through the health department, also was turned away from Rollingcrest this week for similar reasons. Another resident, a teacher in Prince George’s County Schools, 

County officials provided little additional information about the policy.

Hurricaine Isaias closes Prince George’s Covid test sites

In anticipation of heavy winds and rains from Hurricaine Isaias, Prince George’s County Covid-19 testing sits will be closed Aug. 4, 2020. As of this time, all testing sites are scheduled to reopen for normal hours on Aug. 5, 2020. Editor’s note:Route 1 Reporter is – normally – a subscriber-supported local news website.

As Prince George’s lags in Census response, a last-ditch push to be counted

With news that the Census may cut-short its door-to-door data collection, Prince George’s County officials are urging residents to take matters into their own hands and self-report their Census info by phone or online. Prince George’s County lags well behind state averages and behind other suburban-metro Maryland counties when it comes to Census response rates, with only an estimated 64.7 percent of county huoseholds responding as of Aug 3, 2020. Statewide, 66.9 percent of Marylanders have responded to the Census. 

Within Prince George’s County, areas inside the Beltway, such as Chillum, Langley Park, East Riverdale, Landover, and Hillcrest Heights, lag well behind other county Census tracts when it comes to Census response rates. Prince George’s County will host a covid-conscious Census completion and food, medical and school-supply distribution event at Ebenezer Church of God at 7550 Buchanan Street in Landover Hills on Aug. 8, 2020 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. During this event, county officials will provide free meals, backpacks, school supplies, personal protective equipment, Census swag and information.

Data: Coronavirus growing in rural Maryland

Coronavirus is on the rebound in Maryland and – to a lesser extent – in Prince George’s County, according to official state numbers. This surge in cases is being driven by growing outbreaks in rural areas of Maryland, according to an analysis by Route 1 Reporter. In particular, exurban communities in central Maryland and along the Chesapeake Bay’s western shores have seen the number of positive tests increase most-dramatically since July 1. Meanwhile, urban areas closer to Washington D.C., hard-hit by the virus early on, have seen far less-dramatic changes in the number of new positive coronavirus cases. !function(){“use strict”;window.addEventListener(“message”,(function(a){if(void 0!==a.data[“datawrapper-height”])for(var e in a.data[“datawrapper-height”]){var t=document.getElementById(“datawrapper-chart-“+e)||document.querySelector(“iframe[src*='”+e+”‘]”);t&&(t.style.height=a.data[“datawrapper-height”][e]+”px”)}}))}();

!function(){“use strict”;window.addEventListener(“message”,(function(a){if(void 0!==a.data[“datawrapper-height”])for(var e in a.data[“datawrapper-height”]){var t=document.getElementById(“datawrapper-chart-“+e)||document.querySelector(“iframe[src*='”+e+”‘]”);t&&(t.style.height=a.data[“datawrapper-height”][e]+”px”)}}))}();

As of July 21, Total cases have risen to 79,545 across the state, and include 3,402 deaths.