South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Redbank Community Club, d/b/a The Shady Lady vs. SCDOR

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Redbank Community Club, d/b/a The Shady Lady

South Carolina Department of Revenue

For the Petitioner:
Kenneth E. Allen, Esquire

For the Respondent:
Sean G. Ryan, Esquire

For the Protestant:
Pro se




This matter is before the Administrative Law Court (“ALC”) for a final order and decision following a contested case hearing pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §§ 1-23-310 et seq. (2005 & Supp. 2007), S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-600(B) (Supp. 2007), and S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-260 (Supp. 2007). The petitioner, Redbank Community Club, d/b/a The Shady Lady (“Petitioner” or “The Shady Lady”), applied for an on-premises beer and wine permit pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §§ 61-4-500 et seq. (Supp. 2007) and a non-profit private club liquor-by-the-drink license pursuant to §§ 61-6-1600 et seq. (Supp. 2007) for the location at 1030 B Redbank Road, Goose Creek, South Carolina 29445. Pastor Jimmy Fuller on behalf of Harbour Lake Baptist Church (“Protestant”) filed a written protest to the Petitioner’s application. Respondent South Carolina Department of Revenue (“Department”) denied the application pursuant to § 61-4-525 and § 61-6-1825 due to the receipt of the Protestant’s valid public protest. The Department determined that, other than the timely filed protest, the Petitioner met all of the other statutory requirements. After notice to the parties and the Protestant, the court held a hearing on this matter on April 21, 2008. Both parties and the Protestant appeared at the hearing. Evidence was introduced and testimony presented. After carefully weighing all of the evidence, the court finds that the Petitioner’s application for this location should be granted subject to restrictions.


The only issue in dispute is the suitability of the location. S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520(5)-(6); 61-6-1820; Schudel v. S.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Comm’n, 276 S.C. 138, 276 S.E.2d 308 (1981).


Having observed the witnesses and exhibits presented at the hearing and closely passed upon their credibility, and taking into consideration the burden of persuasion by the parties, the court makes the following Findings of Fact by a preponderance of the evidence.

Evidence was presented regarding all of the relevant statutory criteria. Notice of the time, date, place, and subject matter of the hearing was given to all parties and the Protestants.

Mr. Joseph Thomas (“Thomas”) is the principal member of the business seeking the requested permit and license. He is over the age of twenty-one and appears from the evidence presented to be of good moral character. The business does not owe the state or federal government any delinquent taxes, penalties, or interest. Notice of the application was lawfully posted at the location and was published in a newspaper of general circulation.

The Petitioner is currently seeking a permit for the retail sale of beer and wine for on-premises consumption and a non-profit private club liquor-by-the-drink license for the location at 1030 B Redbank Road, Goose Creek, South Carolina 29445. The Department granted a temporary permit and license to the Petitioner because the proposed location was licensed at the time, under a former owner. The Shady Lady operates as a members-only billiards club. The club’s members play billiards on eight-person teams; Thomas testified that there are 80 to 90 teams total. The area in the vicinity of the proposed location is substantially residential, but also contains a few small businesses. Although the location has had problems with criminal activity in the past, there have been no incidents inside the club since Thomas obtained ownership, although there have been two altercations in the parking lot of the club. The parking area is well lit at night, and parking at the club appears to be adequate.

On January 4, 2008, the Petitioner entered into an agreement with the Department that the following restrictions be imposed on the Petitioner’s permit, if and when it is issued or renewed:

(1) Redbank Community Club, located at 1030 B Redbank Road, in or near the town of Goose Creek, South Carolina (“Licensee”) does agree that it will not permit video gaming machines, and similar video gaming machines of chance, as prohibited by S.C. Code Ann. Section 12-21-2710, or any activity that constitutes gambling, upon its licensed premises in the future.

(2)               (A) That no person that was a principal of the Redbank Social Club, as defined in S.C. Code Ann. Section 61-2-100(H)(2) (officer, partner, member of, manager, fiduciary, stockholder, or employee with day to day operational management responsibilities) specifically including but not committed to, Jerry Hicks, Amanda K. Bond and Beverly J. Hicks, be permitted to be a ‘principal’ or otherwise have a direct or indirect financial interest in the business known as Redbank Community Club, located at 1030 B Redbank Rd, in or near the town of Goose Creek, South Carolina.

(3)               That further, this Restriction shall apply to any subsequent trade name that the Applicant may do business under.

(4)               That should the Licensee violate the provisions of this Restriction Agreement, the Licenses [sic] does hereby consent to the summary revocation of the beer and wine permit without further administrative proceedings by the Department.

(Respt.’s Ex. 2).

Pastor Fuller testified on behalf of the Protestant about his concerns regarding crime in the area and police incident reports involving the proposed location under its previous ownership. In the Protestant’s opinion, serving alcohol at the club will make the area more dangerous because the proposed location is near a main road and children play in the area. The Protestant further testified that there are several schools in the area. The Protestant measured the distance to the nearest school and as being 486 feet from the proposed location; however, the map prepared by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (“SLED”) for the Department shows the distance to be 552 feet.


Based upon the foregoing Findings of Fact, the court concludes the following as a matter of law.

1. Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction over this case is vested with the South Carolina Administrative Law Court pursuant to §§ 1-23-310 et seq., § 1-23-600(B), and § 61-2-260. “[T]he issuance or granting of a license to sell beer or alcoholic beverages rests in the sound discretion of the body or official to whom the duty of issuing it is committed[.]” Palmer v. S.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Comm’n, 282 S.C. 246, 248, 317 S.E.2d 476, 477 (Ct. App. 1984); see also Wall v. S.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Comm’n, 269 S.C. 13, 235 S.E.2d 806 (1977). The weight and credibility assigned to evidence presented at the hearing of a matter is within the province of the trier of fact. See S.C. Cable Television Ass’n v. S. Bell Tel. & Tel. Co., 308 S.C. 216, 222, 417 S.E.2d 586, 589 (1992). Furthermore, a trial judge who observes a witness is in the best position to judge the witness’s demeanor and veracity and to evaluate the credibility of his testimony. See, e.g., Woodall v. Woodall, 322 S.C. 7, 10, 471 S.E.2d 154, 157 (1996); Wallace v. Milliken & Co., 300 S.C. 553, 556, 389 S.E.2d 448, 450 (Ct. App. 1990).

2. Suitability of Location

a. Generally

Section 61-4-520 establishes the criteria for the issuance of a beer and wine permit. Included in the criteria is the requirement that the proposed location be a proper and suitable one. See § 61-4-520(5)-(6). Additionally, § 61-6-1820 sets forth the basic criteria for the issuance of a liquor license. However, a liquor license may be denied if the proposed location is not suitable. See Schudel, 276 S.C. 138, 276 S.E.2d 308. Therefore, either a beer and wine permit or a liquor license may be denied if the location of the business is not a proper one.

b. Factors in Determining Proper Location

“Proper location” is not statutorily defined, but broad discretion is vested in the trier of fact to determine the fitness or suitability of a particular location for the requested permit. See Fast Stops, Inc. v. Ingram, 276 S.C. 593, 281 S.E.2d 118 (1981). In determining whether a proposed location is suitable, it is proper for this tribunal to consider any evidence that shows adverse circumstances of location. Kearney v. Allen, 287 S.C. 324, 326, 338 S.E.2d 335, 337 (1985); Palmer, 282 S.C. at 249, 317 S.E.2d at 478 (citing Smith v. Pratt, 258 S.C. 504, 189 S.E.2d 301 (1972)). The determination of suitability of location is not necessarily solely a function of geography. Rather, 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, 287 S.C. at 326-27, 338 S.E.2d at 337; Schudel, 276 S.C. at 138, 276 S.E.2d at 308. Further,

a liquor license or permit may be properly refused on the ground that the location of the establishment would adversely affect the public interest, that the nature of the neighborhood and of the premises is such that the establishment would be detrimental to the welfare . . . of the inhabitants, or that the manner of conducting the establishment would not be conducive to the general welfare of the community.

48 C.J.S. Intoxicating Liquors § 168 at 366 (2004). 

Other factors may be considered when determining whether a location is proper. For example, a liquor license shall not be granted if the place of business is within 300 feet (if within a municipality) or within 500 feet (if outside a municipality) of any church, school, or playground. S.C. Code Ann. § 61-6-1820(3); S.C. Code Ann. § 61-6-120. The Alcoholic Beverages, Beer and Wine regulations provide specific guidance on how the distance is measured for liquor licenses. To determine the distance between a proposed location and a church, “the distance shall be measured from the nearest entrance of the place of business by following the shortest route of ordinary pedestrian or vehicular travel along the public thoroughfare to the nearest point of entrance to the grounds of the church.” 23 S.C. Code Ann. Reg. 7-303 (Supp. 2007). However, it is important to note that the distance restrictions in § 61-6-120 do not apply when the proposed location is already licensed at the time of the new application. See S.C. Code Ann. § 61-6-120(A) (“The [distance] restrictions do not apply . . . to new applications for locations which are licensed at the time the new application is filed with the department.”).

Although the General Assembly did not provide absolute statutory distance requirements for beer and wine permits as it did for liquor licenses, the proximity to residences, churches, schools, and playgrounds may be considered for beer and wine permits as well. S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520(6); Smith, 258 S.C. at 504, 189 S.E.2d at 301. Therefore, the decision as to whether the proximity is improper for a beer and wine permit must be made on a case-by-case basis resting upon the peculiar facts of each permit request.

Additionally, consideration can be given to the impact the issuance of the permit or license will have on law enforcement. Fowler v. Lewis, 260 S.C. 54, 194 S.E.2d 191 (1973); Roche v. S.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Comm’n, 263 S.C. 451, 211 S.E.2d 243 (1975). Evidence that the granting of a permit will place a strain upon police to adequately protect the community must be weighed. Moore v. S.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Comm’n, 308 S.C. 160, 162, 417 S.E.2d 555, 557 (1992). Denial is appropriate where the public areas surrounding the proposed location have been the source of constant law enforcement problems or significant problems with public intoxication. Roche, 263 S.C. at 451, 211 S.E.2d at 243. Another pertinent factor is whether police have been summoned to the scene on prior occasions when licensed to another party. Schudel, 276 S.C. at 141-42, 276 S.E.2d at 309-10. It is relevant whether the location is near other locations that have either been a constant source of law enforcement problems or are locations where young people congregate and loiter. Palmer, 282 S.C. at 250, 317 S.E.2d at 478.

Similarly, consideration can be given to whether the location is heavily traveled or creates a traffic danger. Id. Furthermore, whether the location has in the recent past been permitted and whether the location is now more or less suitable than it was in the past is a relevant factor. Taylor v. Lewis, 261 S.C. 168, 198 S.E.2d 801 (1973). Finally, a valid consideration is whether the surrounding area is substantially commercial. Id.; Byers v. S.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Comm’n, 281 S.C. 566, 316 S.E.2d 705 (Ct. App. 1984).

S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-580(5) (Supp. 2007) prohibits a permittee from knowingly allowing “any act, the commission of which tends to create a public nuisance or which constitutes a crime under the laws of this state” to occur on the licensed premises. The term “licensed premises” includes not only the interior of The Shady Lady, but also the areas immediately adjacent to the entrance and exit, as well as the parking areas. See 23 S.C. Code Ann. Regs. 7-700 (Supp. 2007) (“Licensed premises shall include those areas normally used by the permittee or licensee to conduct his business and shall include but are not limited to the following: selling areas, storage areas, food preparation areas and parking areas.”). “[O]ne who holds a license to sell alcoholic beverages is responsible for supervising the conduct of his clientele, both within the licensed premises and in the immediate vicinity, in order to ensure that his operations do not create a nuisance for the surrounding community.” Dayaram Krupa, LLC v. S.C. Dep’t of Revenue, 06-ALJ-17-0929-CC, 2007 WL 1219343 (S.C. Admin. Law Ct., March 19, 2007) (citing § 61-4-580(5) and A.J.C. Enters., Inc. v. Pastore, 473 A.2d 269, 275 (R.I. 1984)). The court in A.J.C. Enterprises held that a liquor licensee “assumes an obligation to supervise the conduct of its clientele so as to preclude the creation of conditions within the surrounding neighborhood which would amount to a nuisance to those who reside in the area.” A.J.C. Enters., Inc., 473 A.2d at 275. In the event that a licensed location becomes a public nuisance to the surrounding community, the Department may revoke or refuse renewal of the license for the location. See S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-580(5).

Without sufficient evidence of an adverse impact on the community, a permit or license application must not be denied if the statutory criteria are satisfied. The fact that the issuance of a permit or license is protested is not a sufficient reason, by itself, to deny the application. See 48 C.J.S. Intoxicating Liquors § 166 (2004). Moreover, the denial of a permit or license to an applicant on the ground of unsuitability of location is without evidentiary support when relevant testimony of those opposing the requested license or permit consists entirely of opinions, generalities, and conclusions not supported by the facts. Taylor, 261 S.C. at 171, 198 S.E.2d at 802.

c. Conclusions

After carefully weighing the evidence and applying the law as discussed above, the court finds the proposed location to be suitable. Applying the statutory and regulatory instructions as to measurements for liquor licenses, the proposed location is not within 500 feet of any church, school, or playground and thus does not violate the statutory prohibition for the sale of liquor by the drink. Therefore, the distance does not preclude a liquor license. Furthermore, even if the school were within 500 feet of the proposed location, the statutory liquor license distance restrictions are not applicable in the present situation where the location was licensed at the time of the new application.

Although the court is concerned that the proposed location will be operating during the daytime near several local schools, it notes that the proposed location has been licensed for many years and that the applicant expressed sincere intentions to operate the club properly and to be a good neighbor to the community by avoiding the problems experienced under the club’s prior ownership. As further evidence of his intentions, the Petitioner has entered an agreement with the Department to voluntarily accept restrictions on the permit if the court finds that one should be issued. In light of his assurances, the court finds that it would be unfair to impute the problems under the prior ownership to Thomas.


Based upon the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law stated above, the court finds that the Petitioner meets all of the statutory requirements for an on-premises beer and wine permit and non-profit private club liquor-by-the-drink license. It is therefore

ORDERED that the Department shall GRANT Petitioner’s application for an on-premises beer and non-profit private club liquor-by-the-drink license for the premises located at 1030 B Redbank Road, Goose Creek, South Carolina 29445, in accordance with § 61-2-80, § 61-4-540, and § 61-6-1820, subject to the agreement dated January 4, 2008, between the Department and the Petitioner.




Administrative Law Judge

April 30, 2008

Columbia, South Carolina


Brown Bldg.






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