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Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Thomas L. Linnen, d/b/a Paradise III vs. SCDOR

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Thomas L. Linnen, d/b/a Paradise III

South Carolina Department of Revenue




This matter comes before the Administrative Law Judge Division on the application of Thomas Linnen for an on-premises beer and wine permit for a club located in Georgetown County. After notice to the parties and the protestants, a hearing was held on May 5, 1994 to determine whether a permit should be issued for this location. The file of the Department of Revenue and Taxation was made a part of the record without objection. A copy is substituted for the original. Based upon the evidence and the testimony presented I make the following:


Thomas Lee Linnen is a thirty-nine year old resident of Georgetown, South Carolina who is leasing a building in a partly rural area off State Highway 51 in Georgetown County where he hopes to operate a club. The building previously had been operated as a nightclub and was permitted to sell beer and wine or alcoholic beverages. In the past the club experienced some problems with the law. Linnen did not operate the club during this time.

Although the building is surrounded by woods, the area residents are very vocal in their displeasure with the possibility of the club being licensed to sell any type of alcoholic beverages. Linnen wants to use the club to promote the talents of the community youth. He proposes to operate the club every other weekend for some youth activity without serving beer and wine. On the alternate weekends beer and wine would be sold at the club to provide revenue for the continued operation of the youth events.

The building is not located near any school, churches, or playgrounds. Residents in the area object to the issuance of the permit because of the increased noise in the area and they fear the club will attract an undesirable group of patrons which would trigger a recurrence of the previous problems with violence in the vicinity. The community residents were represented by a Georgetown County Sheriff Deputy who expressed concern over the past history of violence and possible illicit drug activity. The building is located more than eleven miles from Georgetown and the response time of the Sheriff's department would be limited. There are no other establishments in the area open to the general public that are licensed to sell alcoholic beverages.

The required notice was published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county and was posted in front of the building for the requisite time period.


The Administrative Law Judge Division is vested with the powers, duties and responsibilities exercised by the former Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission and hearing officers pursuant to Chapter 23 of Title 1. S.C. Code of Laws § 61-1-55 (Supp. 1993). S.C. Code § 61-9-320 (Supp. 1993) provides the statutory requirements for this issuance of beer and wine permits. It states in part:

No permit authorizing the sale of beer or wine may be issued unless:


(6) The location of the proposed place of business of the applicant is in the opinion of the department a proper one. The department may consider among other factors, as indications of unsuitable location, the proximity to residences, schools, playgrounds, and churches. This item does not apply to locations licensed before its effective date.

S.C. Code § 61-9-320 (6) (Supp. 1993).

Although "proper location" is not statutorily defined, "rather broad discretion is vested in the Commission in determining the fitness or suitability of a particular location." Fast Stops, Inc. v. Ingram, 276 S.C. 593, 281 S.E.2d 181 (S.C. 1981). This determination of suitability is not solely a function of geography, but involves an infinite variety of considerations related to the nature and operation of the proposed business and its impact upon the community where it is to be situated. Kearney v. Allen, 287 S.C. 324, 338 S.E.2d 335 (S.C. 1985); Schudel v. S.C. ABC Commission, 276 S.C. 138, 276 S.E.2d 308 (S.C. 1981).

The location of the proposed business is not within close proximity to any school, church or playground. In the instant case, it is the nature and operation of the proposed business in addition to the previous incidents of possible criminal activity that dictate that a license not be issued. The applicant wants an establishment to foster better relations with the youth of the community and to provide a positive environment for these residents. The area residents do not object to the goals of the applicant but object to the availability of beer and wine in an establishment catering to the youth. The dangers associated with youth and their potential to consume alcoholic beverages have been studied a great deal. The media coverage and campaigns devoted to "just say no" to alcohol and drugs indicate the grave concern not just of this community but of the state and nation as a whole. While the applicant's motives are most laudable, the concerns expressed and the beliefs that there must be other ways to provide a positive environment must be seriously considered.

The adequacy of police protection for a proposed location is a proper consideration for determining suitability for a proposed location. See Terry v. Pratt, 258 S.C. 177, 187 S.E.2d 884 (S.C. 1972). Evidence indicated that the police response time would be very slow in this area. The concerns of police protection in the community and the past incidents of questionable activity on the premises when previously licensed also indicate that the location is not a suitable one for the issuance of a beer and wine permit.


Although the applicant meets the other statutory requirements to hold a license, based upon the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law relating to the location and nature of the business, an on-premise beer and wine permit should not be issued to this location. Therefore,

IT IS ORDERED, that the application of Thomas L. Linnen for an on-premises beer and wine permit is DENIED.



Administrative Law Judge

June __, 1994

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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