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

Mogee Enterprises, LLC, d/b/a Buffalo ABC vs. DOR

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Mogee Enterprises, LLC, d/b/a Buffalo ABC
933 Main Street, Buffalo, South Carolina

South Carolina Department of Revenue

William E. Whitney, Jr., Esquire
For Petitioner

Glenn P. Caldwell
Frances W. Mitchell
Protestants, pro se




This matter comes before this tribunal pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-260 (Supp. 2002) and S.C. Code Ann. §§ 1-23-310 et seq. (1986 & Supp. 2002) for a contested case hearing. Petitioner Mogee Enterprises, LLC, seeks a retail liquor license for a liquor store to be known as Buffalo ABC, adjoining its existing pawn shop at 933 Main Street in Buffalo, South Carolina. The South Carolina Department of Revenue (Department) would have granted the permit, upon the completion of a final inspection of the renovated premises, but for the protests filed by Mr. Glenn P. Caldwell and Ms. Frances W. Mitchell regarding the suitability of the store’s location. Accordingly, the Department was excused from the hearing of this matter.

After notice to the parties and the protestants, a hearing of this case was held on May 29, 2003, at the Administrative Law Judge Division in Columbia, South Carolina. Based upon the evidence presented concerning the suitability of the proposed location and the applicable law, I find that Petitioner’s application for a retail liquor license should be granted.


Having carefully considered all testimony, exhibits, and arguments presented at the hearing of this matter, and taking into account the credibility and accuracy of the evidence, I make the following Findings of Fact by a preponderance of the evidence:

1.James E. Harris, Jr., and his mother, Vicki C. Morgan, co-owners of Petitioner Mogee Enterprises, LLC, submitted an application for a retail liquor license on behalf of Mogee Enterprises to the Department in January 2003 for the premises located at 933 Main Street, Buffalo, South Carolina. This application is hereby incorporated into the record by reference.

2.The proposed store is located in the unincorporated community of Buffalo, South Carolina, along Highway 215, a major highway and thoroughfare running between Buffalo and Union, South Carolina. Footnote The building housing the store is situated on a four-acre tract of land in a largely commercial area of Buffalo, with some fifteen to twenty businesses located within two miles of the store. The commercial building and the four-acre tract, which also contains a mobile home park, are owned by Ms. Morgan, who leases the building to Mogee Enterprises. The building has recently been renovated to bring it to commercial standards and to improve its security features, and Mogee Enterprises currently operates a pawn shop, known as Buffalo Pawn and Gun, out of one-half of the building. The proposed store is situated some fifty yards off the highway and has parking for approximately fifteen vehicles.

3.Mr. Harris and Ms. Morgan are over twenty-one years of age, are citizens of the United States, and have resided and maintained their principal place of abode in South Carolina for at least thirty days prior to submitting their application for a retail liquor license.

4.Mr. Harris and Ms. Morgan are persons of good moral character. The criminal background investigation of Mr. Harris and Ms. Morgan conducted by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) did not reveal any criminal violations for either Mr. Harris or Ms. Morgan, and the record in this case does not indicate that they have engaged in acts or conduct implying the absence of good moral character.

5.Neither Mr. Harris nor Ms. Morgan have had a permit to sell beer or wine or a license to sell alcoholic liquors suspended or revoked within the five years preceding the filing of their application for a retail liquor license.

6.The premises to be licensed are not located within five hundred feet of any church, school, or playground.

7.No other members of Mr. Harris’ or Ms. Morgan’s households have been issued retail liquor licenses. Further, Mr. Harris and Ms. Morgan have not been issued more than three retail liquor licenses, nor do they, their relatives, or any partnership, association, or corporation in which they are involved have an interest, financial or otherwise, in more than three retail liquor stores.

8.Notice of Petitioner’s application was published in The Union Daily Times, a weekly newspaper published and circulated in Union County, South Carolina, for three consecutive weeks, and proper notice of the application was posted at the proposed location for fifteen days.

9.The nearest residences to the proposed location are the mobile homes located in the mobile home park owned by Ms. Morgan and a residence owned by Mr. Harris’ first cousin situated approximately 75 yards from the location on the other side of Highway 215. There are no other residences in the immediate vicinity of the proposed location.

10.Mr. Glenn Caldwell and Ms. Frances Mitchell, two Buffalo residents, filed protests against Petitioner’s application. Both Mr. Caldwell and Ms. Mitchell testified that they are generally opposed to the sale of liquor and that they are concerned about the potential adverse impact the sale of liquor at the location will have upon the Buffalo community, and in particular, upon the elderly residents of Buffalo.


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

1.Jurisdiction over this case is vested with the Administrative Law Judge Division pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-260 (Supp. 2002) and S.C. Code Ann. §§ 1-23-310 et seq. (1986 & Supp. 2002).

2.“[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).

3.S.C. Code Ann. §§ 61-6-110 and 61-6-120 (Supp. 2002) establish the basic criteria for determining eligibility for a retail liquor license. Additional requirements are set forth in S.C. Code Ann. §§ 61-6-130 to 61-6-190 (Supp. 2002). Further, S.C. Code Ann. § 61-6-910(2) (Supp. 2002) provides that an application for a license to sell alcoholic liquors must be denied if “the store or place of business to be occupied by the applicant is not a suitable place.”

4.Although “suitable place” is not statutorily defined, broad discretion is vested in the trier of fact to determine the fitness or suitability of a particular location for the requested license. See Fast Stops, Inc. v. Ingram, 276 S.C. 593, 281 S.E.2d 118 (1981).

5.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 v. Allen, 287 S.C. 324, 338 S.E.2d 335 (1985); Schudel v. S.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Comm’n, 276 S.C. 138, 276 S.E.2d 308 (1981).

6.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 § 121, at 501 (1981).

7.However, without sufficient evidence of an adverse impact on the community, a license application must not be denied if the statutory criteria are satisfied. And, 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 § 119 (1981).

8.Moreover, the denial of a license or permit 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 v. Lewis, 261 S.C. 168, 198 S.E.2d 801 (1973); Smith v. Pratt, 258 S.C. 504, 189 S.E.2d 301 (1972).

9.In making a decision in this matter, this tribunal is constrained by the record before it and the applicable statutory and case law. Here, Petitioner Mogee Enterprises and its principals, Mr. Harris and Ms. Morgan, meet all of the statutory criteria enacted by the South Carolina General Assembly for the issuance of a retail liquor license, and there has not been a sufficient evidentiary showing that the proposed location is unsuitable for Petitioner’s business or that the issuance of the license would create problems in or have an adverse impact upon the surrounding community. The protestants’ opposition to Petitioner’s license primarily stems from their moral objection to the sale of alcoholic beverages and their largely speculative concern that the sale of alcohol in their community will have a significant adverse impact upon its residents. This tribunal acknowledges the protestants’ right to object to the license in question and respects their opposition to the issuance of the license. However, mere aversion to the sale of alcoholic beverages is not within the statutory grounds for the denial of an application for a retail liquor license, and the protestants’ concerns about their community, while sincere, are too general and too speculative to support the denial of Petitioner’s application. Therefore, while this tribunal is respectful of the protestants’ position, their arguments do not constitute a sufficient, concrete basis upon which to deny Petitioner’s application for a retail liquor license at the proposed location.


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

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Department of Revenue shall continue to process Petitioner’s application for a retail liquor license for the premises located at 933 Main Street, Buffalo, South Carolina.




Administrative Law Judge

Post Office Box 11667

Columbia, South Carolina 29211-1667

June 10, 2003

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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