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

John Robinson, Roblin Inc., d/b/a Water's Edge Grill vs. SCDOR

South Carolina Department of Revenue

John Robinson, Roblin Inc., d/b/a Water's Edge Grill

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Water's Edge Homeowners' Association

Elizabeth F. Mallin, Esquire

Attorney for the Petitioner

S.C. Department of Revenue and Taxation

Respondent (Not Present at the Hearing)

David B. Miller, Esquire

Water's Edge Homeowners' Association




This matter comes before me pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 61-1-55 (Supp. 1994) and S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-310, et seq. (Supp. 1994) for a hearing pursuant to the application of John Robinson. The applicant seeks an on-premises beer and wine permit (AI 102481) for a restaurant located at 1012 N. Waccamaw Drive, G-1, within the City of Garden City, County of Horry, South Carolina.

After timely notice to the parties, a hearing was held at the Administrative Law Judge Division in Columbia, South Carolina. Water's Edge Homeowners' Association ("the Association") moved to intervene as a party before the hearing and the motion was granted without objection by previous Order of the Division dated May 11, 1995. The issues considered at the hearing were: (1) the applicant's eligibility to hold a beer and wine permit; (2) the suitability of the proposed business location; and, (3) the nature of the proposed business activity. The on-premises beer and wine permit is hereby 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. The applicant seeks an on-premises beer and wine permit for a restaurant located in Garden City, South Carolina, at 1012 N. Waccamaw Drive, G-1.

2. The South Carolina Department of Revenue and Taxation's ("DOR") file was made a part of the record by reference with the consent of the parties.

3. The Association, through William Mathews, a member of the Board of Directors, cited the following as grounds for denial of the application: (1) granting the beer and wine permit would not be conducive to the family atmosphere at the resort; (2) granting the beer and wine permit would promote parking problems; (3) the Association's desire to prevent a proliferation of establishments which serve alcoholic beverages, as the current businesses with licenses meet the need of the area; and, (4) the applicant's use of the unit as a restaurant with a beer and wine permit does not conform to the specific use authorized in the regime contract or the restrictive deed.

4. The proposed location is situated on the ground floor of a one hundred and sixty-six (166) unit residential resort condominium on the oceanfront.

5. The ground floor of the condominium was designated by the developer of the resort for commercial use and has been maintained as such. There are presently five commercial units on the ground floor, three of which are currently in use: (1) The Rising Tide, a bar owned by the Association, which holds a beer and wine permit and minibottle license; (2) The Water's Edge Gift Shop, owned by the applicant, John Robinson, which holds an off-premises beer and wine permit; and, (3) Water's Edge Grill, the restaurant in question, owned by the applicant, John Robinson.

6. A Class A restaurant license has been issued to the applicant for Water's Edge Grill.

7. The proposed location is currently seasonally operated as a restaurant which serves breakfast and lunch, with hours of operation from 6:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Menus are available and the business is currently engaged primarily and substantially in the preparation and service of meals. The proposed location is presently closed, but will reopen for the summer in June.

8. The proposed location has seating capacity for at least twenty-four (24) people simultaneously at tables for the service of meals.

9. While the Association alleges that the specific use of the applicant's unit does not conform to its deed restrictions or regime contract, the nature and intended use of the proposed location conforms to the general commercial use intended for the units on the ground floor.

10. No concrete evidence was presented to show that the issuance of an on-premises beer and wine permit, as requested by the applicant, would have an adverse impact on the community.

11. No church, school, or playground is within close proximity to the proposed location.

12. The applicant's spouse, Linda A. Robinson, operates and manages the restaurant.

13. The applicant and his spouse are of good moral character.

14. The applicant is at least 21 years of age, a U.S. citizen, a citizen of the State of South Carolina, and has maintained his principal residence in the state for at least thirty (30) days prior to the date of making application for an on-premises beer and wine permit.

15. The applicant currently holds an off-premises beer and wine permit for Water's Edge Gift Shop and has not been cited for any violations; and, the applicant has not had an ABC permit or license revoked within two years of the date of his application.

16. Notice of the application appeared in the Sun News, a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the proposed location, for three (3) consecutive weeks and notice was posted at the proposed location for fifteen (15) days.


Based upon the foregoing Findings of Fact, I conclude, as a matter of law, the following: 1. S.C. Code Ann. § 61-1-55 (Supp. 1994) authorizes the South Carolina Administrative Law Judge Division to hear this case pursuant to Chapter 23 of Title I of the 1976 Code, as amended.

2. S.C. Code Ann. § 61-9-320 (Supp. 1994) establishes the criteria for the issuance of a beer and wine permit.

3. Although "proper location" is not statutorily defined, broad discretion is vested in the Division in determining the fitness or suitability of a particular location. Fast Stops, Inc. v. Ingram, 276 S.C. 593, 281 S.E.2d 181 (1981).

4. As the trier of fact, an administrative law judge is authorized to determine the fitness or suitability of the proposed business location of an applicant for a permit to sell beer and wine using broad, but not unbridled discretion. Ronald F. Byers v. S.C. ABC Commission , 281 S.C. 566, 316 S.E.2d 705 (Ct. App. 1984).

5. There has been no evidentiary showing that the present location is unsuitable or that the issuance of an on-premises beer and wine permit would affect the residents' safety, create traffic problems, or have an adverse impact on the community. The proposed location and the nature of the business activity are suitable and proper given the commercial nature of the ground floor of the resort condominium.

6. 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 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. South Carolina ABC Comm'n, 276 S.C. 138, 276 S.E.2d 308 (1981).

7. The existence of other similar businesses located in the vicinity of the proposed location does not currently disrupt the harmonious or compatible coexistence of businesses and residences.

8. "A liquor license or permit may properly be 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 (1981).

9. 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 facts. Smith v. Pratt, 258 S.C. 504, 189 S.E.2d 301 (1972); Taylor v. Lewis, 261 S.C. 168, 198 S.E.2d 801 (1973).

10. 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 residents, i.e., the Association, protest the issuance of the permit and license is not a sufficient reason by itself to deny the application. See 45 Am. Jur. 2d Intoxicating Liquors § 162 (Supp. 1994); 48 C.J.S. Intoxicating Liquors § 119 (1981). The grounds proffered by the Association as justification for denial of the applicant's permit are speculative and/or not supported by sufficient evidence. While this tribunal admitted evidence of certain deed restrictions and provisions of a regime contract, it did so only for the limited purpose of evaluating the applicant's character for truthfulness and veracity, as there was an allegation by the Association that the applicant had knowingly submitted false information to the Department of Revenue and Taxation. This allegation is without merit. Furthermore, at the beginning of the hearing, this tribunal advised the Association that it was not in the proper forum to settle disputes regarding deed restrictions and provisions of a regime contract between itself and the applicant.

11. The applicant satisfies all of the statutory requirements for holding an on-premises beer and wine permit.


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

ORDERED that the on-premises beer and wine permit is granted for the location at 1012 N. Waccamaw Drive, G-1, Garden City, South Carolina.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Department of Revenue and Taxation issue an on-premises beer and wine permit upon the payment of the required fee(s) and cost(s) by the applicant.




Administrative Law Judge

Edgar A. Brown Building

1205 Pendleton Street

Columbia, South Carolina 29201

May 30, 1995

Brown Bldg.






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