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Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Arsonists Motorcycle Club vs. DOR

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Arsonists Motorcycle Club
575 Perry Avenue, Greenville, SC

South Carolina Department of Revenue

The City of Greenville, SC

Kenneth E. Allen, Esquire, for the Petitioner

Dana Krajack, Esquire, for the Respondent

Debra J. Gammons, Esquire for the Respondent-Intervenor

Protestant: Sister Margie Hosch, Pro Se




This matter comes before the Administrative Law Judge Division (Division) pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §61-2-90 (Supp. 2002) and S. C. Code Ann. §§1-23-310 et seq. (1986 and Supp. 2002) for a contested case hearing. The Petitioner Arsonists Motorcycle Club is a nonprofit organization. It seeks an on-premise beer and wine permit and a nonprofit private club minibottle license. The Department of Revenue (Department) filed a Motion to be Excused from the hearing, on the basis that but for the protests of the Protestants, this permit would have been issued. This motion was not granted. The Protestant is: Sister Margie Hosch on behalf of Greenville Faith United and the City of Greenville. Thirty other Protestants filed a protest with the Department, but no other Protestant was present at the hearing. Because of this, their protests are deemed abandoned. The City, which had protested, filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene which was granted April 24, 2003. A hearing was held on this case on May 14, 2003, at the offices of the Division in Columbia, South Carolina.


Having observed the witnesses and exhibits presented at the hearing and closely passed upon their credibility, 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 given to the Petitioner, Protestant, Intervenor and the Respondent.

2.The proposed location for the Arsonists Motorcycle Club is 575 Perry Avenue, Greenville, South Carolina. The Petitioner seeks an on-premise beer and wine permit and a nonprofit private club minibottle license on behalf of a nonprofit organization. The proposed hours of operation are:Friday 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 or 11:00 p.m.

Saturday 1:00 p.m. to midnight

Sunday 1:00 p.m to midnightThe club may open on Monday nights for televised football games, or other special events as needed. There will be no live music, only a basic stereo system. The capacity of the club is only 40 people. Members must be at least 21 years old, although the members would prefer that other members be at least 25 years old. The membership will consist primarily of other City employees from the Fire Department and the Public Works Department. The fee for membership will be $5.00.

3.The qualifications set forth in S. C. Code Ann. §§ 61-4-520 and 61-6-1820 (Supp. 2002) concerning the residency and age of the Petitioner are properly established. Furthermore, the Petitioner has not had a permit or license revoked within the last two years. Notice of the application was also lawfully posted both at the location and in a newspaper of general circulation.

4. Mr. Willie Woods, President of the club, has no criminal record and is of sufficient

moral character to receive a beer and wine permit and sale and consumption license. Mr. Charles Cannon, Vice President of the club, had a arrest eight years ago for criminal domestic violence, and was jailed for one day as a result. At the hearing on this application, the applicant stated that Mr. Marco Richardson would also serve as an officer in the club instead of Mr. Jeff Watson. The application did not list Mr. Richardson as a principal in the club. The Respondent asked that the record be held open for thirty days to allow them to obtain a SLED report on Mr. Richardson. This request was granted. The Department sent a letter dated June 3, 2003 concerning their response to Mr. Richardson’s conviction of Disorderly Conduct in 1996. The Department agrees that this offense is not one of moral turpitude, was a single occurrence several years ago, and should not prevent the applicant from being granted its license and permit.

5.The proposed location is not unreasonably close to any church or school. However, it is next door to a mission that serves addicts. Testimony at trial revealed, however, that this mission has moved four times in three years.

6.The majority of the members of the Arsonist’s Motorcycle Club are public servants who work for the city fire department or the public works department. The club members plan to use the proceeds from the sale of alcohol at their club to fund projects for at risk youth. They state that no children pass by the proposed location on a regular basis, and that the location is a nice one with televisions and a sitting area inside. The Petitioners state that they will monitor the parking lot of the location to prevent loitering and to control noise.

7.The Protestant’s objection to the Petitioner’s permit and license is based upon the location of the Arsonists Motorcycle Club. The Protestant asserts that the proposed location may cause problems, including noise, traffic, driving under the influence, alcohol consumption, fights, and disorderly conduct. However, there was no specific evidence offered to establish that the Petitioner’s business did not have a reputation for peace and good order. As public employees, the officers of the club have testified that they are aware of the risks of alcohol, and acknowledge that because of their positions, they have to be particularly careful. Mr. Woods acknowledged at the hearing that the members could lose their jobs with the city if there were trouble at the club.

Additionally, the Department of Revenue, which is the governmental body charged with regulating and enforcing violations concerning permits and licenses involving the sale of beer, wine or alcohol, did not object to the granting of a permit or license in this case.

8.The Intervenor is concerned about the impact that this type of establishment may

have on the neighborhood. The West Greenville area has been a depressed area with low income, little development and high crime rates. The City is trying to improve the area through grants designed to improve the infrastructure of the area, increase affordable housing, and improve the quality of life of the residents. Although the City states that they are concerned with the number of locations that serve alcohol in the area, they admitted that they had not protested any renewal applications of the other neighborhood locations which are currently licensed to serve alcohol.

9. The Applicants plan to use the proceeds from the sale of alcohol at the club to fund

their programs for at risk youth, including teaching them how to handle job situations, establishing and maintaining a good credit history, providing an alternative to the innundation of drugs and alcohol on television by having a SCARE program to show the bad side of drugs–the families at funerals and on welfare because of money spent on drugs. As city employees, the applicants are in an unique position to be able to accomplish these goals. In addition, because of their employment, it is difficult for these men to have a place to gather with like-minded individuals with the same job pressures.

I find these men highly credible and aware of the risks and responsibilities associated with running a club which serves alcohol. Therefore, the applicants are fit and the proposed location is suitable for an on-premise beer and wine permit and a nonprofit private club minibottle license.


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. 2002) grants jurisdiction to the Administrative Law Judge Division to hear contested cases under the Administrative Procedures Act. Additionally, S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-260 (Supp. 2002) specifically grants the Administrative Law Judge Division the responsibilities to determine contested matters governing alcoholic beverages, beer and wine.

2.S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520 (Supp. 2002) sets forth the requirements for the issuance of an on-premise beer and wine permit. Specifically, Section 61-4-520(1) provides in part that to receive a beer and wine permit the Petitioner must show that "[t]he applicant, any partner or co-shareholder of the applicant, and each agent, employee, and servant of the applicant to be employed on the licensed premises are of good moral character."

3. In addition to the requirements set forth above, a license for the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages must not be granted unless the provisions of S.C. Code Ann. § 61-6-1820 (Supp. 2002) are met. That section requires that the principals and applicants must not only be of good moral character, but they must also have a reputation for peace and good order. Additionally, Section 61-6-1820 provides that a sale and consumption license shall not be granted unless the proposed location meets the minimum distance requirements from churches, schools, or playgrounds as set forth in S.C. Code Ann. §61-6-120 (Supp. 2002). Section 61-6-120 also requires that a location inside of a municipality licensed to sell liquor must be a minimum of three hundred feet from any church, school, or playground. The distance is determined by following “the shortest route of an ordinary pedestrian or vehicular travel along the public thoroughfare from the nearest point of the grounds in use as part of such church, school, or playground. . . .” S.C. Code Ann. §61-6-120 (Supp. 2002).

4.S.C. Code Ann. 61-6-20(6) (Supp. 2002) establishes that a nonprofit organization is not open to the general public and only the members and guests of the club may consume alcoholic beverages upon the premises.

5.Although “proper location” is not statutorily defined, broad discretion is vested in the trier of fact in determining the fitness or suitability of a particular location. Fast Stops, Inc. v. Ingram, 276 S.C. 593, 281 S.E. 2d 118 (1981). As the trier of fact, the Administrative Law Judge is authorized to determine the fitness or suitability of the Petitioner and the proposed business location for a license or permit using broad, but not unbridled, discretion. Byers v. South Carolina ABC Commission, 281 S.C. 566, 316 S.E. 2d 705 (Ct. App. 1984). The determination of suitability of a location is not necessarily a function solely of geography. It involves an infinite variety of considerations related to the nature and operations 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).

6.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 or license is not a sufficient reason by itself to deny the application. See 45 Am. Jur. 2d Intoxicating Liquors § 162 (Supp. 1995); 48 C.J.S. Intoxicating Liquors § 119 (1981).

7.It is relevant to determine whether the testimony in opposition to the granting of a permit is based on opinions, generalities and conclusions, or whether the case is supported by facts. Byers v. South Carolina ABC Commission, 281 S.C. 566, 316 S.E. 2d 705 (Ct. App. 1984). There were no specific concrete objections voiced by the Protestant and Intervenor. Their objections were speculative and address general concerns. Moreover, they have not protested the renewals of the other licenses in the area, nor did any of the other neighbors in the area of the proposed location attend the hearing to perfect their protests.

Therefore, the Petitioner meets the statutory requirements for holding a beer and wine permit and a nonprofit private club minibottle license as a nonprofit organization at the proposed location.


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

ORDERED that the application of Arsonists Motorcycle Club, for an on-premise beer and wine permit and a nonprofit private club minibottle license as a nonprofit organization, be issued upon payment of the required fees and costs by the Petitioner.




Administrative Law Judge

June 24, 2003

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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