South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
Edgar A. Brown building 1205 Pendleton St., Suite 224 Columbia, SC 29201 Voice: (803) 734-0550

SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

James R. McCollum, d/b/a Blue Moon Night Club vs. SCDOR

South Carolina Department of Revenue

James R. McCollum, d/b/a Blue Moon Night Club

South Carolina Department of Revenue

For the Petitioner:
Pro se

For the Respondent:
Amelia F. Ruple, Esquire




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. § 1-23-600(A) (as amended 2008)[1] and S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-260 (Supp. 2007). The petitioner, James R. McCollum, d/b/a Blue Moon Night Club (“Petitioner”), applied for an on-premises beer and wine permit pursuant to §§ 61-4-500 et seq. for the location at 3101 Harllees Bridge Road in Hamer, South Carolina, 29547. Gerald and Myrtle Berry, Thad and Judy Campbell, and Reverend David Greene (“Protestants”) filed written protests to the Petitioner’s application.[2] Respondent South Carolina Department of Revenue (“Department”) denied the application pursuant to § 61-4-525 due to the receipt of the Protestants’ valid public protests. The Department further denied the application pursuant to § 61-4-540 because the Petitioner failed to provide a complete application, and pursuant to § 61-4-520(5) because the Department determined that the proposed location was unsuitable due to safety concerns.

After notice to the parties and the Protestants, the court held a hearing on June 10, 2008. All parties 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 denied.


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.

The Petitioner seeks a permit for the retail sale of beer and wine for on-premises consumption for the location at 3101 Harllees Bridge Road in Hamer, South Carolina, 29547. The proposed location is in a rural area of Dillon County. Notice of the application was lawfully posted at the location and was published in a newspaper of general circulation.[3]

James Randy McCollum (“McCollum”) is the individual seeking the requested permit and license. He is over the age of twenty-one and has never had a permit or license to sell beer, wine, or liquor revoked. McCollum has no criminal record.

The area in the vicinity of the proposed location has several residences. Further, the area surrounding the proposed location has experienced significant problems with safety and illegal activity, including shootings and gang activity. There have also been numerous incidents of intoxication, despite the fact that there is currently no alcohol license for the proposed location. At the hearing, the Department offered into evidence two incident reports from the Dillon County Sheriff’s Office. The first incident involved a fatal shooting due to rival gang activity outside the proposed location. The second incident involved the discharge of firearms immediately outside the proposed location. McCollum’s nephew was involved in this incident.

The Department provided evidence at the hearing that the Petitioner failed to submit all the information requested by the Department. First, McCollum failed to provide proof of valid access to the proposed location, such as a bill of sale, deed of distribution, or a lease. The information in the Department’s file indicates that the property was formerly owned by McCollum’s father. McCollum’s father has since died, leaving twenty heirs who are eligible to inherit the property. No evidence was presented that McCollum, as only one of twenty heirs to the property, has a leasehold or other interest in the property that would permit him to operate the establishment at the proposed location. Despite repeated requests by the Department, McCollum failed to provide such documentation to the Department during the application process or present evidence as to this issue at trial. Additionally, McCollum failed to sign his otherwise complete Consent and Waiver Form, and in his application provided many different addresses for the proposed location.

McCollum testified that other family members have operated the business in the past, and that he has been involved with the business only for the past two years. He also testified that family members assist him in the business. Evidence was presented that McCollum provided a criminal background check to the Department, and that the Department determined that McCollum has no outstanding tax liability. At the hearing, McCollum testified that he had verified the correct address to be 3101 Harllees Bridge Road in Hamer, South Carolina 29547.


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

1. Jurisdiction and Review

Jurisdiction over this case is vested with the South Carolina Administrative Law Court pursuant to § 1-23-600(A) (as amended by 2008 S.C. Act No. 334) 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) (Supp. 2007).

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 v. S.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Comm’n, 276 S.C. 138, 276 S.E.2d 308 (1981). 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, 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. 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.

Denial of a permit 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 v. S.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Comm’n, 263 S.C. 451, 211 S.E.2d 243 (1975). 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).

Additionally, 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 Blue Moon Night Club, 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 must not be denied if the statutory criteria are satisfied. The fact that the issuance of a permit 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 to an applicant on the ground of unsuitability of location is without evidentiary support when relevant testimony of those opposing the requested 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.

3.                  Other Requirements

Before the Department can grant a beer and wine permit, the applicant must submit a complete application to the Department. See S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-500 (Supp. 2007) (“A person engaging in the business of selling beer, ale, porter, wine . . . must apply to the department for a permit to sell these beverages.”). The application must include:

(1) the name, address, date of birth, race, and nationality of the person applying for the license or permit;

(2) the exact location where the business is proposed to be operated;

(3) a description of the type of business to be operated;

(4) whether the applicant or an owner of the business has been involved in the sale of alcoholic liquors, beer, or wine in this or another state and whether he has had a license or permit suspended or revoked;

(5) whether the applicant has been a legal resident of this State for at least thirty days before the date of application, and has maintained his principal place of abode in the State for at least thirty days before the date of application;

(6) other information required by the department to determine if the application meets all statutory requirements for the license or permit and to determine the true owners of the business seeking the license or permit.

§ 61-2-90 (Supp. 2007). Furthermore, a “misstatement or concealment of fact in an application is a sufficient ground for the revocation of the permit.” § 61-4-540 (Supp. 2007).

4. Conclusions

After carefully weighing the evidence and applying the law as discussed above, the court finds that the Petitioner’s application should be denied. McCollum has met many of the statutory requirements contained in §§ 61-4-500 et seq. to obtain a permit for beer and wine. Although he did not supply all of the information requested by the Department, he appears to have provided all that is required by the statute. See S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-90 (setting forth the required contents of an application). The requested information regarding access to the premises does not appear to relate to any statutory requirement. Further, McCollum provided evidence as to the correct physical address of the proposed location at the hearing. Accordingly, the court finds that McCollum’s application was not incomplete such that the requested permit should be denied on that basis.

Nonetheless, the court concludes that the Petitioner has failed to produce sufficient evidence that the proposed location is a suitable one. McCollum, as the party with the burden of proof to show eligibility for the permit sought, failed to establish that he meets all of the statutory requirements for a permit. The evidence presented shows that the proposed location has experienced repeated violent activity, including such serious offenses as assault, the discharge of firearms, and a fatal shooting. In determining the suitability of a location, the law permits the court to consider criminal activity in the surrounding area. Palmer, 282 S.C. at 250, 317 S.E.2d at 478. Here, the fatal shooting and the other firearms incident occurred on the premises of the proposed location. 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.”). Furthermore, intoxication has been a problem at the as-yet unlicensed proposed location. See Roche, 263 S.C. 451, 211 S.E.2d 243 (holding that “constant problems with public intoxication” was a grounds for denial). Moreover, McCollum testified that he is assisted in the business by family members. One of those family members was involved in a serious criminal incident on the premises. Although McCollum testified that the business has been run by other family members in the past, there is no evidence in the record indicating whether the proposed location has been previously licensed to sell beer and wine. Even if it had, however, the criminal activity and the nature of the operation of the business show that the proposed location is less suitable for licensure than in the past. See Taylor, 261 S.C. at 172, 198 S.E.2d at 802. The court therefore finds that the violent nature of the criminal activity at the proposed location make it unsuitable for the permit sought. Palmer, 282 S.C. at 250, 317 S.E.2d at 478.

Further, the nature and operation of the proposed business and its impact on the community within which it is to be located weigh against the granting of a permit. Kearney, 287 S.C. at 326-27, 338 S.E.2d at 337. The neighborhood surrounding the proposed location is rural but residential. The court finds that the crime in the area presents a danger to the nearby residents. The proximity of this club to the residences nearby renders it an unsuitable location. See § 61-4-520(6) (permitting the department to consider, among other factors, as indications of unsuitable location, the proximity to residences, schools, playgrounds, and churches); Palmer, 282 S.C. at 250, 317 S.E.2d at 478 (“The findings . . . that this location is situated in a rural residential area, in close proximity to other residences, and that there have been law enforcement problems in the area, support the conclusion that the location is unsuitable for the sale of cold beer and wine.”); Roche, 263 S.C. 455, 211 S.E.2d 245 (holding that law enforcement problems in the area as well as the residential nature of the neighborhood rendered the proposed location unsuitable). A home is located across the street and three other residences are located within 1500 feet of the club. All of these factors together make the proposed location unsuitable for the sale of beer and wine. See § 61-4-520(6).

In short, after considering the individual and combined effect of all of these factors and reviewing the totality of the circumstances, the court finds that granting the requested permit would have an adverse effect on the community. The proposed location is therefore not a proper one and is unsuitable. See §§ 61-4-520(5)-(6). Accordingly, the Petitioner has not met all of the requirements for the issuance of a beer and wine permit. See §§ 61-4-500 et seq.


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

ORDERED that the Department’s decision to deny the Petitioner’s application for an on-premises beer and wine permit for the premises located at 3101 Harllees Bridge Road in Hamer, South Carolina 29547 is upheld.




Administrative Law Judge

July 21, 2008

Columbia, South Carolina

[1] The APA was amended and renumbered via 2008 S.C. Act No. 334. Accordingly, all citations to the APA in this Order are to the recently amended and renumbered sections enacted by Act No. 334.

[2] All public protests filed in this matter were either withdrawn or deemed invalid because the Protestants failed to appear at the hearing. See S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-525(C).

[3] The initial newspaper notice was published with the wrong address for the proposed location. This was later corrected by the Petitioner, and this was not listed as a reason for denial by the Department in its final agency decision.


Brown Bldg.






Copyright © 2022 South Carolina Administrative Law Court