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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Virgil L. Lynch, d/b/a Across The Bridge vs. SCDOR

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Virgil L. Lynch, d/b/a Across The Bridge

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Aiken County Sheriff





This matter comes before me pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 61-1-55 (Supp. 1995) and S.C. Code Ann. §§ 1-23-310, et seq. (Rev. 1986 & Supp. 1995) upon the application of Virgil L. Lynch for an on-premises beer and wine permit for Across the Bridge located at 1013 Sandbar Ferry Road, Beech Island, South Carolina. After notice to the parties, a hearing was conducted on December 1, 1995. Major Jody Rowland of the Aiken County Sheriff's Department requested that the Sheriff 's Department be made a party to the proceeding to protest the issuance of a beer and wine permit at this location. The request was granted. Based upon the evidence presented, the application is denied.


I make the following findings of fact, taking into consideration the burden on the parties to establish their respective cases by a preponderance of the evidence, and taking into account the credibility of the witnesses:

1. Virgil L. Lynch was born on February 29, 1952 and is over twenty-one years of age.

2. He is a legal resident of the United States and is a resident of South Carolina.

3. Mr. Lynch has no criminal history and he is a person of good moral character.

4. No permits or licenses for the sale of alcoholic liquors, beer or wine have been issued to Mr. Lynch and no violations have ever been issued or revocations.

5. The proposed location is 1013 Sandbar Ferry Road in Beech Island, South Carolina, approximately one to two miles from the Georgia state line. It is also located in the same block as the applicant's home.

6. Beech Island is a rural community located 16 miles from North Augusta, South Carolina. Sandbar Ferry Road is also known as Highway 28 which extends from Georgia to Aiken.

7. Across the Bridge will be a cafe and sports bar in which food and beverages will be served. Mr. Lynch also proposes to hold special events at the location including barbecues and receptions. There will be no live entertainment.

8. The proposed hours of operation are 7:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Monday; 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday; 3:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Friday; 3:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight on Saturday; closed on Sunday and Tuesday.

9. Under previous ownership, the location was operated as a nigthclub which was licensed to sell beer and wine. The license for the location was revoked in 1993 by the former Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. Lynch subsequently purchased the property and is extensively renovating the building.

10. The location is not near any schools or playgrounds. St. Johns House of Worship is located 344 feet from the proposed location.

11. The Sheriff is protesting the application because of the past history of the location. He argues that the events and complaints occurring under the previous tenant and cited in the 1993 ABC Commission order (Exhibit 6); its close proximity to a retail liquor store and other beer and wine locations; loitering in the vicinity; and the accessibility of law enforcement warrant denial of the permit.

12. There is a retail liquor store located one hundred feet next door to the proposed location. Next to the liquor store, on the corner, is a tackle and bait shop that sells beer and wine to go. On the other side of the proposed location, about 75 feet away, is an auto repair shop. There is no parking for these businesses except in the open space in front of the proposed location. Across the street, there is a gas station which also has a beer and wine permit for sales to go. All of the licensed locations are within approximately 200 feet of the proposed location.

13. A majority of the reasons for protesting the application concern the activities occurring at the location when previously licensed. Most of the activity involved illegal drugs, weapons, and loitering. The ABC Commission determined that the location was a public nuisance. Efforts by the licensee did not curb any of the activity occurring inside and outside of the location.

14. Since the license was revoked and the location closed, there has been a significant reduction in the number of calls to the area. The number of incidents involving violent crimes has also decreased since the location closed.

15. The ABC Commission order sets forth specific instances in which law enforcement were also endangered by virtue of the large number of people present outside the location.

16. The Aiken County Sheriff provides police protection for Beech Island. One deputy is assigned to this area. The response time for law enforcement to Beech Island is approximately 28 minutes. Lack of financing prohibits the location of a sheriff substation in the area.

17. Notice of the application was posted at the location and published in the Aiken Standard for the time period required.

18. The proposed location is unsuitable for a beer and wine permit because of the burden upon law enforcement to police the location, the number of existing businesses selling beer and wine in close proximity to the proposed location, and the resulting negative impact that would occur upon the local community.


1. The Administrative Law Judge is vested with the powers, duties and responsibilities of the former Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission and hearing officers pursuant to Chapter 23 of Title 1. S.C. Code Ann. § 61-1-55 (Supp. 1995).

2. S.C. Code Ann. § 61-9-320 (Supp. 1995) provides the statutory requirements for the issuance of beer and wine permits. It provides in part that the location must be suitable.

3. 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).

4. As the trier of fact, the Administrative Law Judge is authorized to decide the fitness or suitability of the proposed business location for a permit to sell beer and wine using broad, but not unbridled, discretion. Byers v. S.C. ABC Comm'n, 281 S.C. 566, 316 S.E.2d 705 (Ct. App. 1984).

5. The determination of suitability of the proposed location is not necessarily a function solely of geography. It may involve 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).

6. The applicant meets the statutory requirements for issuance of a beer and wine permit except as to suitability of the proposed location.

7. The proposed location is not suitable considering the impact of the sale and consumption of beer upon criminal activity in the area and past law enforcement problems. Palmer v. S.C. ABC Comm'n, 282 S.C. 246, 317 S.E.2d 476 (Ct. App. 1984).


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

ORDERED, that the application of Virgil L. Lynch for an on-premises beer and wine permit for "Across the Bridge" located on Sandbar Ferry Road in Beech Island is DENIED.




Administrative Law Judge

February _____, 1996

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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