300-unit Northgate gets final approval

Prince George’s County Planning Board unanimously approved final 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 vote took place at its Jan. 30 meeting after being continued from the Jan. 23 meeting.

News blues: Prince George’s Sentinel newspaper closes, leaving big hole in local coverage

The Prince George’s Sentinel newspaper is gone. The Sentinel, which had covered the county for nearly 90 years, joined its Montgomery County sister paper and published their final editions Thursday. The move was announced earlier in January by publisher Lynn Kapiloff, who said the twin papers had not been profitable for more than a decade. 

Now, suddenly, vast swaths of Prince George’s County have become a true news desert, with no reliable source of professional reporting on public affairs. While the quality and consistency of the Prince George’s Sentinel’s reporting left something to be desired, the Seabrook-based paper reliably dispatched journalists to all corners of the county in search of news. In the last two weeks alone, its journalists filed stories eminating from Greenbelt, Hyattsville, Upper Marlboro, Temple Hills, Oxon Hill, College Park, Bowie, New Carrolton, and Lanham.

College Park changes trash laws

After hours of debate, College Park City Council approved twin measures that will bring sweeping changes to the city’s “special” and “bulk” trash pickup policies and fee structure. But because of a last-minute amendment put forth by Councilor Robert Day, City Council approved changes to the fee schedule with a phase-in period where no penalties or fees would be assessed for those violating the new rules.

Mount Rainier library re-opens with new look, new tech

After more than year closed, Mount Rainier’s little library branch has re-opened. During a standing-room-only grand-opening ceremony held Jan. 27, 2020, city officials hailed the library – officially named the Karl A. Young Library after a longtime local fire chief who died suddenly – as an essential, beloved public space for the community. “This represents what we are striving for in Mount Rainier,” said Mayor Malinda Miles during the ceremony. “It speaks volumes to what a city and staff and mayor and council can do when they have partnerships.”

The library is unique in Prince George’s County that the building is owned and maintained by the city of Mount Rainier, which allows the library system to operate within.

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.

Mount Rainier says pit bull ban is ‘lowest law-enforcement priority’

Mount Rainier City Council approved a measure declaring county laws banning pit bulls to be the ‘lowest law-enforcement priority’ for its city police officers. The measure, approved by a vote of four-to-one at Mount Rainier’s Jan. 14, 2020, meeting, instructs the police department to “deprioritize, to the greatest extent possible” enforcement of the pit bull ban.