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

Gary Herron, d/b/a Barnyard Bottle Shop vs. SCDOR

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Gary Herron, d/b/a Barnyard Bottle Shop

South Carolina Department of Revenue

John Shuler
Attorney for Petitioner

Department of Revenue
(Not present at hearing)

Protestants, pro se:
Reverend Robert Brown
Gertrude B. Mixson
Sherry M. Rutland



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. (Supp. 1995) for a hearing on the application of Gary Herron. Petitioner seeks a retail liquor license (AI 109845) for the Barnyard Bottle Shop, which is located outside an incorporated municipality at 1714 Neeses Highway (Highway 4), Orangeburg County, South Carolina.

After timely notice to the parties and protestants, a hearing was held at the Administrative Law Judge Division, Columbia, South Carolina. Three protestants appeared at the hearing. The protestants did not move to intervene as parties. The issues considered at the hearing were: (1) petitioner's eligibility to hold a retail liquor license; (2) the suitability of the proposed business location; and, (3) the nature of the proposed business activity.

Petitioner's retail liquor license 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. Petitioner seeks a retail liquor license for the Barnyard Bottle Shop which is under construction and will be located outside an incorporated municipality at 1714 Neeses Highway (Highway 4), Orangeburg County, South Carolina.

2. Petitioner's application to the South Carolina Department of Revenue ("Department") was made a part of the record by reference without objection.

3. The area surrounding the proposed location is rural and consists of a mixture of residential dwellings and commercial development. To the immediate right of the proposed location (facing the proposed location) are Amoco and BP gas stations, both of which have off-premises beer and wine permits. A restaurant is also located in the immediate vicinity on the same side of the highway.

4. No church, school or playground is within 500 feet of the proposed location.

5. Gospel Light Church and Liberty Freewill Church are located on the opposite side of Neeses Highway from the proposed location. Pursuant to the method for measuring distance as prescribed in S.C. Code Regs. 7-11 and 7-55, the Gospel Light Church is located 1269 feet away from the proposed location and the Liberty Freewill Church is located 1879 feet away. The nearest residence, that of protestant Gertrude Mixon, is located across the street at a distance of 547 feet from the proposed location.

6. Petitioner and Jayne Herron own the land where the proposed location is to be situated.

7. The State Law Enforcement Division ("SLED") completed a criminal background investigation of petitioner Gary Herron. The SLED report revealed no criminal violations; and, petitioner has not engaged in acts or conduct that imply the absence of good moral character. Petitioner has a good reputation in the community.

8. Petitioner is at least 21 years of age, a U.S. citizen, a resident 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 a retail liquor license.

9. Petitioner has not had a license for the sale or manufacture of alcoholic liquors revoked within the five (5) year period preceding the filing of his application.

10. Notice of the application appeared in The Times and Democrat, 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.

11. Petitioner nor anyone in his household currently holds an alcoholic liquors license.

12. The Department did not oppose petitioner's application.

13. The protestants testified in opposition to the license in question. As justification for denial of the retail liquor license, the protestants cited: (1) the proximity of the proposed location to the churches, as mentioned herein; (2) traffic hazards at the intersection near the proposed location; and, (3) the possible negative impact of the proposed location on the community.



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. 1995) and Chapter 23 of Title 1 of the 1976 Code, as amended, authorizes the South Carolina Administrative Law Judge Division to hear this case.

2. The Administrative Law Judge Division has sole and exclusive authority to grant a retail liquor license in contested and protested cases.

3. S.C. Code Ann. §§ 61-3-420, 425, 450, 460, 480, 490, and 730 (Supp. 1995) establish the criteria for determining eligibility for a retail liquor license.

4. Although "proper location" is not statutorily defined, broad discretion is vested in the Administrative Law Judge 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).

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

6. In determining whether a proposed location is suitable, it is proper for this tribunal to consider any evidence that shows adverse circumstances of location. Smith v. Pratt, 258 S.C. 504, 189 S.E.2d 301 (1972); Palmer v. S.C. ABC Comm'n, 282 S.C. 246, 317 S.E.2d 476 (Ct. App. 1984); See also Moore v. S.C. ABC Comm'n, 308 S.C. 160, 417 S.E.2d 555 (1992).

7. The denial of a license or permit to an applicant on the grounds 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. 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).

8. There has not been a sufficient evidentiary showing that the present location is unsuitable or that the issuance of a retail liquor license 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. 48 C.J.S. Intoxicating Liquors § 121 (1981).

9. Petitioner meets all of the criteria enacted by the South Carolina General Assembly for the issuance of a retail liquor license. In making a decision in this matter, this tribunal is constrained by the record before it and the applicable statutory and case law. The objections raised by the protestants are mainly rooted in their abhorrence to the proposed location selling liquor. This tribunal acknowledges the protestants' opposition to the issuance of the license, in question, and also acknowledges their right to hold such sentiments. However, the basis of this opposition is without merit and is not within the statutory grounds for refusal. See 48 C.J.S. Intoxicating Liquors §§ 118, 119, 121 (1981). The mere aversion to the sale of liquor at the proposed location is not a sufficient basis on which to deny petitioner's request. Furthermore, the fact that residents protest the issuance of the license is not a sufficient reason by itself to deny the application. See 45 Am. Jur. 2d Intoxicating Liquors § 162 (Supp. 1994). In requesting this tribunal to deny petitioner's application, protestants are in essence asking this tribunal to effectuate zoning. The ultimate purpose of which is to confine certain classes of buildings and uses to certain localities. 101A C.J.S. Zoning and Land Planning §101 at 366 (1979). Such authority is vested solely in protestants' local government.

Standards for judging the suitability of a proposed location for the sale of liquor are not determined by a local community's religious convictions or moral litmus test. Criteria must be uniform, objective, constant, and consistent throughout the State. The sale of liquor is a lawful enterprise in South Carolina, as regulated by the State. More importantly, petitioner satisfies all of the statutory grounds enacted by the South Carolina General Assembly for holding a retail liquor license, and this tribunal has neither the authority nor the inclination to conduct local referenda on whether a particular community is opposed in principle to the sale of liquor.

10. Petitioner satisfies all statutory requirements for holding a retail liquor license and the proposed location is suitable and proper for the issuance of a retail liquor license.


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

ORDERED that the Department of Revenue and Taxation issue a retail liquor license to Gary Herron for a location at 1714 Neeses Highway, Orangeburg County, South Carolina upon the payment of the required fee(s) and cost(s) by petitioner.




Administrative Law Judge

Post Office Box 11667

Columbia, South Carolina 29211-1667

December 11, 1996

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






Copyright © 2022 South Carolina Administrative Law Court