South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Bryan Ferguson, d/b/a Past Times On The Corner vs. DOR

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Bryan Ferguson, d/b/a Past Times On The Corner
101 S. Main Street, Abbeville, SC

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Bryan Ferguson, Petitioner, Pro Se

Carol I. McMahan, Esquire, for the Respondent

Protestant: Rev. Bobby Cutter




This matter comes before the Administrative Law Judge Division (Division) pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §61-4-520 (Supp.2001) for a contested case hearing. The Petitioner seeks an on-premises beer and wine permit and sale and consumption (mini-bottle) license for the location at 101 S. Main Street, Abbeville, South Carolina. This matter is presently before the Division because of a protest by a concerned citizen regarding the suitability of the location. The Respondent moved to be excused, since but for the protest they would have issued the permit and license. This motion was denied. After notice to the parties and Protestant, a hearing was conducted on March 21, 2003, at the Division in Columbia, South Carolina. At the hearing, the parties and Protestant were present. The attorney of record for the Petitioner, Mr. R. Eugene Pruitt, Jr. was not present.


Having observed the testimony of the witnesses and exhibits presented at the hearing and having closely passed upon their credibility, I make the following Findings of Fact by a preponderance of the evidence:

1. The Petitioner seeks an on-premises beer and wine permit and mini-bottle license

for the location known as Past Times On The Corner, located at 101 S. Main Street, Abbeville, South Carolina. This location is currently a restaurant, and the Petitioner seeks to offer his customers the option of having beer, wine or mixed drinks with their meals.

2. The Respondent, South Carolina Department of Revenue, determined that the

location and the Petitioner met all statutory requirements and would have granted the permit but for the protest as to suitability of the location.

3. The location is in the downtown area of Abbeville in a commercial district. There

are churches in the area, but not within the statutory proximity.

4. A minister of a church near the proposed location opposed the permit. He is

concerned about the harm that beer and wine could cause in the community, and about the potential increase in accidents caused by driving under the influence of alcohol.

5. The applicant is of good moral character. The State Law Enforcement Division’s

criminal background investigation revealed no criminal violations.

6. The Petitioner is at least twenty-one years of age, a U.S. citizen, and citizen of the

State of South Carolina, and has maintained his principal residence in the State for at least thirty days prior to the application.

7. Notice of the application appeared in The Press and Banner, a newspaper

of general circulation in the area of the proposed location, once a week for three consecutive weeks and notice was posted at the proposed location for fifteen days.


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

1.The South Carolina Administrative Law Judge Division has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-260 (Supp. 2001).

2.The factual determination of whether or not an application is granted or denied is usually the sole prerogative of the agency charged with rendering that decision. Palmer v. South Carolina ABC Comm’n, 282 S.C. 246, 317 S.E.2d 476 (Ct. App. 1984).

3.Although “proper location” is not statutorily defined, broad discretion is vested in the trier of fact to determine the fitness or suitability of the proposed business location of an applicant who is seeking a permit to sell beer and wine. Fast Stops, Inc., v. Ingram, 276 S.C. 593, 281 S.E.2d 119 (1981); Ronald F. Byers v. South Carolina ABC Comm’n, 281 S.C. 566, 316 S.E.2d 705 (Ct. App. 1984) (beer and wine permit); Schudel v. South Carolina ABC Comm’n, 276 S.C. 138, 276 S.E.2d 308 (1981) (sale and consumption license).

4.It is also the fact finder’s responsibility to judge the demeanor and credibility of the witnesses and determine the relevance and weight of any testimony offered.

5.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 on the community within which it is to be located. Kearney v. Allen, 287 S.C. 324, 338 S.E.2d 335 (1985). Any evidence adverse to the location may be considered. Byers v. South Carolina ABC Comm’n, 305 S.C. 243, 407 S.E.2d 653 (1991). Further, the Judge may consider whether there have been law enforcement problems in the area. Palmer v. South Carolina ABC Comm’n, 282 S.C. 246, 317 S.E.2d 476 (Ct. App. 1984). Also, the Judge may consider the proximity or the absence of other licensed locations in the immediate vicinity, as well as the existence of small children in the area.

6.In considering the suitability of a location, it is relevant to consider the previous history of the proposed location and to determine whether the testimony in opposition to a permit consists of opinions and conclusions or is supported by facts. Taylor v. Lewis, 261 S.C. 168, 198 S.E.2d 801 (1973).

7.Without 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 alone to deny the application. 48 C.J.S. Intoxicating Liquors § 119 (1981).

8.S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-525 (Supp. 2001) provides that a person residing in the county in which a beer and wine permit is requested to be granted, or a person residing within five (5) miles of the location, may protest the issuance of the permit if he files a written protest.

9.Permits and licenses issued by the State are not rights or property, but are rather privileges granted in the exercise of the police power of the State. See Feldman v. South Carolina Tax Comm’n, 201 S.C. 49, 26 S.E.2d 22 (1943).

10.After considering all the relevant factors, I find that the restaurant’s location is suitable for the on-premises sale of beer and wine and sale and consumption (minibottle) license. There is nothing to indicate that the Petitioner would operate his business in an unlawful manner. Further, the church is located at such a distance that it is unlikely having a restaurant at the proposed location would have a negative impact on the community.


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

ORDERED that the South Carolina Department of Revenue grant the Petitioner’s application for an on-premises beer and wine permit and sale and consumption (minibottle) license.




Administrative Law Judge

April 3, 2003

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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