Hammond council gets look at new development code

The city planner gave the Hammond City Council a first look Tuesday at a proposed new development code regulating construction.

City Planner Josh Taylor told the council that many of the ordinances that have been passed over the years to govern development are outdated. In some cases, he said, the regulations were contradictory and “fought against each other.”

The new Unified Development Code, if approved by the council at its meeting on Jan. 7, will be more flexible, especially with respect to regulations governing the use of space dedicated to parking and landscaping, Taylor said.

Current rules will be changed to allow more “imagination and flexibility” in landscaping, Taylor said. He said the new code also will allow for more creative ways to provide adequate parking at commercial venues.

The proposed Unified Development Code includes regulations for all phases of development, including drainage, infrastructure, site preparation, building codes, and other facets that go into construction of residences and business establishments. The document also specifies what structures are allowed in the city’s various zones that cover business and residential areas.

Taylor said contractors, subdivision developers, business planners, and all who “have a stake in development” were asked for their opinions before the new document was written.

The council on Tuesday also voted unanimously to introduce an ordinance that would allow the Hammond Police Department to make a fund transfer of $31,680 to purchase what the council’s agenda termed “combat equipment.”

Police Chief Roddy Devall said the department plans to use the money to buy bulletproof shields and new vests that have special pockets for additional ammunition. He said the shields and additional ammo are designed especially for situations such as a shooter invading a school.

“This is equipment I hope we never have to use, but in this day and age, it’s necessary,” Devall said. “We have been training our officers on how to react if we have a terrorist attack at one of our schools or public places. We want to be prepared.”

Devall said that the new equipment was being purchased with funds confiscated from drug dealers awarded to the Police Department for enhanced protection of the community’s citizens.