County council taps businessman to seat on planning & zoning commission

GEORGETOWN – A local businessman with more than three decades of construction and management experience will be the newest face and voice on Sussex County’s Planning & Zoning Commission.

County council at Tuesday’s meeting appointed R. Keller Hopkins, 55, of the Bridgeville area to a seat on the five-member panel.

The commission is a council-appointed body that reviews and gives consideration toward subdivision applications and other land use requests.

Mr. Hopkins’ appointment takes effect immediately and will last through June 2017, when the current three-year term ends.

“I recognize the need for careful planning,” said Mr. Hopkins. “It will be my desire to work to ensure that our next generation enjoys the many benefits of living and working in the county.”

Commissioners are paid $250 a meeting.

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Keller Hopkins

County council vice president Samuel R. Wilson, Jr., R-Georgetown, nominated Mr. Hopkins to fill the seat vacated by former commissioner Michael Johnson, who resigned this summer to focus on his financial services business. Mr. Johnson served 11 ½ years on the Commission.

Mr. Wilson praised Mr. Hopkins for his vast knowledge of the local construction industry, as well as interest in county and state regulatory and policy issues, topics that are often the focus of the planning commission’s work.

Mr. Hopkins is the founder and chief executive officer of Hopkins Construction Inc., which concentrates on general construction and public wastewater projects. He has had that business since 1988.

“Keller is a good man with a lot of ideas and a good understanding of land use here in Sussex County,” Mr. Wilson said. “He’s been out there working in construction for more than 30 years, so he knows the issues, what works and what doesn’t work, and he loves Sussex County. He’s the right man for the job and I’m proud to have him on board.”

Mr. Hopkins was born in Seaford and was raised in Bridgeville. He graduated from Lancaster Mennonite High School in southern Pennsylvania.

Council’s vote to appoint Mr. Hopkins was 4-1.

Joan Deaver, D-Lewes, cast the dissenting vote. Her belief is Mr. Hopkins is not replacing Mr. Johnson and his views on all planning and zoning aspects.

“I am really sorry to lose somebody that would have some compassion and understanding for my district,” said Ms. Deaver. “I would have rather had somebody with a wider perspective and I see this as just more of what we already have.

“Your experience is fabulous, but it is very similar to what we already have on the commission,” said Ms. Deaver.

Councilmen George Cole, R-Ocean View; Rob Arlett, R-Frankford, Michael Vincent, R-Seaford, and Mr. Wilson supported the appointment.

“I think the background will be very helpful to making the type of decisions we make on the planning and zoning commission and the recommendations,” said Cole. “I believe your background will assist you in making good recommendations.”

“I think we need more of yo,  that the represent the people of this county, and not less,” said Mr. Arlett. “I appreciate your business background, your ethics, your morals and your willingness to be part of the solution for the future of this county.”

The Sussex County Post delivers news from Georgetown and southern Delaware. Follow @SussexPost on Twitter.

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