Surfside sued by former zoning director

By Charles D. Perry, Myrtle Beach Herald

Surfside Beach's former planning and zoning director is suing the town over her April firing.

Jacklyn Donevant's lawsuit was filed June 19. In court papers, Donevant claims she was terminated because of a dispute about a "stop work" ticket she issued to workers at the Surfside pier restaurant in March.

Demolition work at the restaurant began in January while Donevant was out on medical leave (she was diagnosed with breast cancer in December), according to court records. When Donevant returned on March 13, she met with then-town administrator Jim Duckett, who told her not to reverse any decisions that were made in her absence or she would be fired.

After the meeting, Donevant sent a note to Duckett explaining that she did not plan to change anything but she had to follow state and local building code regulations.

Soon after returning, Donevant discovered that hardwood floors were being installed at the pier restaurant, according to the lawsuit. The builder had a demolition permit but lacked a necessary construction permit, so Donevant wrote a "stop work" ticket.

The next day, Duckett suspended Donevant for three days and removed the ticket she had posted, according to court records.

The lawsuit alleges that Duckett then instructed another staff member to issue a construction permit for the work even though construction plans for the eatery had not been approved. The staff member who did this didn't have the proper license and authority to do so under state law.

Construction has been taking place at the restaurant since March 20 without the proper permit, according to the lawsuit.

On March 25, Donevant wrote Duckett and informed him that she was obligated to follow state law, according to court records. She was fired on April 4.

"It is a violation of a clear mandate of the public policy of the State of South Carolina for an employer to terminate an employee for refusing to violate the law," the lawsuit states.

Donevant is seeking unspecified damages.

Duckett recently stepped down from the administrator's post.