South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Clara James, d/b/a New Beginning Bar & Grill vs. DOR

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Clara James, d/b/a New Beginning Bar & Grill
213 Moses Drive, Darlington, SC

South Carolina Department of Revenue

For the Petitioner: Clara James, Pro Se

For the Protestants: Pastor Nathaniel Wingate and Mrs. Everett Lee, Pro Se

For the Department of Revenue: Excused




This matter comes before the Administrative Law Court pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-90 (Supp. 2003) and S.C. Code Ann. §§ 1-23-310 et seq. (1986 & Supp. 2003) for a contested case hearing. The Petitioner, Clara James, d/b/a New Beginning Bar & Grill, seeks an on-premise beer and wine permit for 213 Moses Drive, Darlington, South Carolina. Respondent South Carolina Department of Revenue (Department) filed a Motion to be Excused setting forth that but for the protests received from two citizens, this permit would have been issued. That Motion was granted by my Order dated August 27, 2004. A hearing was held before me on October 12, 2004, at the offices of the Administrative Law Court (ALC or Court) in Columbia, South Carolina.


Having observed the witnesses and exhibits presented at the hearing and closely passed upon their credibility, taking into consideration the burden of proof upon the parties and the Protestants, I make the following Findings of Fact by a preponderance of the evidence:

1.Notice of the time, date, place and subject matter of the hearing was given to the Petitioner, the Protestants, and the Department.

2.The Petitioner seeks an on-premise beer and wine permit for New Beginning Bar & Grill, located at 213 Moses Drive, Darlington, South Carolina.

3.The qualifications set forth in S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520 (Supp. 2003) concerning the residency and age of the Petitioner are properly established. Furthermore, the Petitioner has not had a permit or license revoked within the last two (2) years and notice of the application was lawfully posted both at the location and in a newspaper of general circulation. Finally, Clara James, the owner of the location, has no criminal record.

4.The proposed location is not unreasonably close to any school or playground. According to the SLED drawing in the file, which is not drawn to scale, the nearest church is The Church of Living God, located approximately 3/10ths of a mile from the proposed location by roadway. However, the path of that roadway exaggerates the actual distance of the proposed location from the church. In fact, the proposed bar is approximately five hundred (500) feet away from the church.

5.The Protestants, Mrs. Elvert Lee and Pastor Nathaniel Wingate, contend that the New Beginning Bar and Grill (New Beginning) is too close to the nearby residences and will promote adverse changes to this community. New Beginning is in Darlington County outside the city limits of Darlington. It is located on Moses Drive which is a side street in a residential area with trailers and homes situated nearby. The area often has pedestrian traffic including the neighborhood children. The nearest residence is approximately one hundred and four (104) feet from the proposed bar. The owner of that residence is Mrs. Lee, who is also building a new residence across from the location.

Though the proposed location was previously permitted for the sale of beer and wine from approximately 1988 to 1995, the location was run as a private club during that time and not open to the general public at large. Therefore, the nature of the proposed location will be dissimilar from how the location was previously operated. Furthermore, testimony was presented that the location itself is an eyesore to the area. Finally, the proposed location is situated on a side street near a ninety (90) degree curve. Increased traffic at that curve would exacerbate the danger to the neighborhood pedestrian traffic All in all, it appears that the opening of New Beginning Bar and Grill will change the integrity of the vicinity and result in an overall adverse impact on the community. Accordingly, I find that the Petitioner’s proposed location is not suitable for an on-premise beer and wine permit.


Based upon the above Findings of Fact, I conclude the following as a matter of law:

1.S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-600 (1986 & Supp. 2003) grants jurisdiction to the Administrative Law Court to hear contested cases under the Administrative Procedures Act. Furthermore, S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-260 (Supp. 2003) grants the Court the responsibilities to determine contested matters governing alcoholic beverages, beer and wine.

2.A beer and wine permit is neither a contract nor a property right. It is, rather, a privilege granted in the exercise of the State's police power “to do what otherwise would be unlawful to do. . . .” Feldman v. South Carolina Tax Comm’n, 203 S.C. 49, 26 S.E. 2d 22 (1943). S.C. Code Ann. §§ 61-4-520 and 61-4-540 (Supp. 2003) set forth the requirements for the issuance of a beer and wine permit. In particular, Section 61-4-520 (6) vests the Administrative Law Court, as the trier of fact, with the authority to determine if the proposed place of the applicant’s business is a “proper” one. Although “proper location” is not statutorily defined, in making that determination, the Administrative Law Court may consider any evidence that is adverse to the community. Kearney v. Allen, 287 S.C. 324, 338 S.E.2d 335 (1985). In other words, the Court’s determination of suitability of location is not necessarily a function solely of geography. “It involves an infinite variety of considerations related to the nature and operation of the proposed business and its impact on the community” within which it is to be located. Kearney at 337. Additionally, it is relevant to consider the previous history of the location. Smith v. Pratt, 258 S.C. 504, 189 S.E.2d 301 (1972); Taylor v. Lewis, et al., 261 S.C. 168, 198 S.E.2d 801 (1973).

Furthermore, S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520(7) (Supp. 2003) also provides that the proximity of a proposed location to residences may be a consideration in determining whether to grant a beer and wine permit. In Byers v. South Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Comm'n, 305 S.C. 243, 246, 407 S.E.2d 653, 655 (1991), the South Carolina Supreme Court held based upon the language found in Section 61-4-520(7) that “. . . proximity of a location to a church, school or residence is a proper ground, by itself, on which the Commission may find the location to be unsuitable and deny a permit for the sale of beer or wine at that location.”

3.I find that the Petitioner failed to meet the requirements for holding an on-premise beer and wine permit at the proposed location.


Based upon the above Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, it is hereby:

ORDERED that the Petitioner's application for an on-premise beer and wine permit be denied.


Ralph King Anderson, III

Administrative Law Judge

November 16, 2004

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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