South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Latrille Goff, d/b/a Leon’s Sugar Shack vs South Carolina Department of Revenue

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Latrille Goff, d/b/a Leon’s Sugar Shack

South Carolina Department of Revenue

APPEARANCES: For the Petitioner:
Latrille Goff, Pro se
For the
Respondent: Caroline H. Raines., Esquire

For the Protestant: William Murray, Pro se



This matter comes before the Administrative Law Court (“ALC” or “Court”) pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §§ 1-23-310 et seq. (2005 & Supp. 2008), 61-2-260 (Supp. 2008), and 61-4-525 (Supp. 2008) for a contested case hearing.  Petitioner Latrille Goff, d/b/a Leon’s Sugar Shack (“Petitioner”) seeks an on-premises beer and wine permit for its location at 2210 Johnsonville Road, Smoaks, South Carolina (“location”). William Murray (“Protestant”) filed a protest to the application with the South Carolina Department of Revenue (“Department”).  Due to the timely filed public protest, a hearing was required.   

A hearing in this matter was held before me on June 4, 2009, at the offices of the Administrative Law Court in Columbia, South Carolina. Both parties and the Protestant appeared at the hearing.  Evidence was introduced and testimony was taken from both the Petitioner and the Protestant.   After carefully weighing all the evidence, I find and conclude that Petitioner’s request for an on-premises beer and wine permit must be granted.


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

1.         Notice of the time, date, place and subject matter of the hearing was timely given to all the parties and the Protestant.

2.         Petitioner Latrille Goff seeks an on-premises beer and wine permit for the location at 2210 Johnsonville Road, Smoaks, South Carolina.  The location is in Colleton County.    

3.         Petitioner is the applicant for the permit and is the manager of the location.  She is over the age of twenty-one.  She is a legal resident of the State of South Carolina and has maintained her principal place of abode in this State for at least thirty days prior to making this application.  Mrs. Goff is of good moral character and has a reputation of peace in the community.

4.         Notice of the application was lawfully posted at the location and in The Press and Standard, a newspaper of general circulation. 

5.         The current location operates until 2:00 a.m. on Monday through Friday, and until 4:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.  The location is also open during baseball games, which are played on a field adjacent to the location.

6.         Petitioner will diligently check the identification of all patrons, and will take every precaution against serving underage in order to comply with the Department’s regulations.  

7.         There is parking at the location, on the lot situated beside the location, and along the shoulder of Johnsonville Road.

8.         Petitioner is currently unemployed, and will be present at the location during its hours of operation.    

9.         Petitioner leases the location from Oscar Chisom (“Mr. Chisom”).  The written contract between them provides that the lease term began in May 2008 and runs for a period of one year or until terminated.  Pursuant to the lease, Mrs. Goff pays a monthly rental of $500.00.  This amount includes the annual rental fee of the softball field adjacent to the location.

10.         Mr. Murray’s primary concerns with the grant of the permit are that it will greatly increase the potential for automobile accidents and disturb a community that is primarily residential. Mr. Murray testified that the road on which the location is situated contains several dangerous curves that have been the site of fatal accidents.  He further stated that all-terrain vehicles, which are on the road illegally, frequently race near the dangerous curves.  Mr. Murray is also concerned with the loud music at the location and feels that the licensing of this location would have an overall negative impact on the surrounding community and exacerbate existing problems.


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

1.         S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-600 (Supp. 2008) grants jurisdiction to the Administrative Law Court to hear contested cases under the Administrative Procedures Act.

2.         S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-260 (Supp. 2008) grants the Administrative Law Court the responsibility to determine contested cases matters governing alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine and liquor.

            3.         S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520 (Supp. 2008) sets forth the requirements for the issuance of a beer and wine permit. Included in the criteria is the requirement that the proposed location be a suitable one.

4.         The factual determination of whether or not an application is granted or denied is usually the sole prerogative of the executive agency charged with rendering that decision.  Palmer v. S.C. ABC Comm’n, 282 S.C. 246, 317 S.E.2d 476 (Ct. App. 1984).  As the trier of fact, an administrative law judge is authorized to determine the fitness of an applicant for alcohol permits and licenses using broad but not unbridled discretion. Byers v. S.C. ABC Comm’n, 281 S.C. 566, 316 S.E.2d 705 (Ct. App. 1984). 

5.         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); see also Doe v. Doe, 324 S.C. 492, 502, 478 S.E.2d 854, 859 (Ct. App. 1996) (holding that a trial judge, when acting as a finder of fact, “has the authority to determine the weight and credibility of the evidence before him”).  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 Woodall v. Woodall, 322 S.C. 7, 10, 471 S.E.2d 154, 157 (1996).

6.         Although "proper location" is not statutorily defined, the Administrative Law Court is vested, as the trier of fact, with the authority to determine the fitness or suitability of a particular location.  Fast Stops, Inc. v. Ingram, 276 S.C. 593, 281 S.E.2d 181 (1981). The 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 upon the community within which it is to be located.  Kearney v. Allen, 287 S.C. 324, 338 S.E.2d 335 (1985).  In determining the suitability of a location, it is proper for this Court to consider any evidence that demonstrates any adverse effect the proposed location will have on the community. Palmer, supra.  It is also 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, in considering the suitability of a location, it is relevant to consider whether the testimony in opposition to the granting of a license is based on opinions, generalities and conclusions, or whether the case is supported by facts. Id.

7.         Unless there is sufficient evidence of an adverse impact on the community, the application must not be denied if the statutory criteria are satisfied. The fact that a Protestant objects to the issuance of a permit is not a sufficient reason by itself to deny the application.  See 48 C.J.S. Intoxicating Liquors § 166 (2004).

8.         Based upon the evidence presented to the Court, I find that the location is suitable for the issuance of an on-premises beer and wine permit.  The Court is cognizant of the concerns of Mr. Murray that the location is situated on a hazardous road in close proximity to a residential area.  Mr. Murray stated that he feels the licensing of the location will contribute to existing problems, including the all-terrain vehicle races and general reckless driving along Johnsonville Road.  The Court is sympathetic to Mr. Murray’s concerns; however findings may never be based upon surmise, conjecture, or speculation, but must be founded on evidence of sufficient substance to afford a reasonable basis for it.  Mullinax v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., 318 S.C. 431, 443, 458 S.E.2d 76, 83 (Ct. App. 1995).  There is no evidence to substantiate Mr. Murray’s assertions that the licensing of the location will exacerbate or contribute to the problems he testified about, and thus the Protestant’s concerns do not provide a sufficient basis to deny the permit. 

            Accordingly, it appears that Petitioner meets all statutory requirements for the issuance of an on-premises beer and wine permit and that it is suitable for the issuance of the permit. 


Based upon the above Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law,

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the application for an on-premises beer and wine permit by Latrille Goff, d/b/a Leon’s Sugar Shack located at 2210 Johnsonville Road, Smoaks, South Carolina is GRANTED.




Deborah Brooks Durden

June 10, 2009                                                  S.C. Administrative Law Judge

Columbia, South Carolina



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