The Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission no longer has a vacancy, as Kim Hoey Stevenson will fill the seat formerly held by current Sussex County Councilman I.G. Burton III.
Stevenson, who currently serves as the communications director for the Delaware Senate Republican Caucus, as well as a freelance writer, was publically interviewed by the Sussex County Council on Feb. 14.
“I was on the Milford Planning Commission, where I was vice-chair for three years. So I have some background in planning,” Stevenson told the council. “We went through the comprehensive plan process at that time. And, my first job was covering county council, years ago.”
Stevenson said she wanted to join the commission because she is a Sussex County native who wants to continue to be active in the community and county in which she resides.
“You get to a point in your life where you want to be a part of the solution, not just one of the people complaining in the background.”
She has actively worked with various community programs, including Leadership Delaware Inc., Read Aloud Delaware and Eagle’s Nest Fellowship Church.
Stevenson also has a certification in urban planning from her time on the Milford Planning Commission.
“We did a lot of work in Milford to educate ourselves on planning opportunities. I worked with Connie Holland [state planning director, Delaware Office of State Planning Coordination] with what the State was looking for in planning and how health, safety and welfare could be combined to make plans, follow the rules and do well.”
Making note of the fact that she would be sitting on an advisory council, Stevenson said, “I hope I can be part of any decisions being made, that I can make suggestions, that I can be a part of the plan. But, in the end, I understand it is not my role to make the final decision.”
Stevenson said Planning & Zoning is a crucial step to thoughtful growth in making sure “everything ties together.”
“That you can look at not just one part of something but all parts and see how they work together: roads, sewer, infrastructure — I think we need to work on that so everyone has the same definition — but that all things are considered in development, from industrial to residential to agricultural.”
Councilman Rob Arlett asked Stevenson if she perceived any conflict of interest as someone who works with the state Senate.
“I don’t foresee anything upcoming, based on what I’ve done with the Senate so far. I mostly put together their newsletters and press releases. If there were, I would certainly make that known. And, in the end, I would have to recuse myself if there were a problem. I’m pretty transparent, so I would assume everybody would know where I was and what I was doing.”
In looking at the county today, Stevenson said, there are areas where it looks as if more thought could have been put into planning and she hopes that she will be a part of that positive change.
“I’m a local girl. I’m a fourth-generation Hoey in Sussex County. I’ve seen changes over my years here… I’ve seen that over the course of my life. When I was a kid, we would drive from my house in Milford to Rehoboth and it was nothing, nothing, nothing, movie theater, nothing, nothing, nothing, beach…
“I would like to see more thought put in so that type of situation should it arise anywhere else in the county.”
Stevenson was appointed unanimously and will join the commission for their meeting on Feb. 23. Her term will expire on June 30.
“Thank you and best wishes,” said Council President Michael Vincent.