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Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Don R. Taylor, d/b/a Ricky's vs. SCDOR

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Don R. Taylor, d/b/a Ricky's

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Don R. Taylor, pro se, Petitioner

Rev. Bruce Evans and Harold Bates, pro se, Protestants



This matter comes before me pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §§ 1-23-310, et seq. (1986 & Supp. 1997) and S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-260 (Supp. 1997) upon the filing of an application (AI#118339) by Petitioner for an on-premises beer and wine permit for a location at 1900 Highway 187, Anderson, South Carolina. Upon receipt of written protests to the application, the South Carolina Department of Revenue ("DOR") transmitted the case to the Administrative Law Judge Division for a hearing. The contested case hearing was conducted on April 6, 1998, at the Anderson County Courthouse in Anderson, South Carolina. Testifying at the hearing in protest of the proposed location were Rev. Bruce Evans, Harold Bates, Wayne Latham, and Clyde Mullinax. Petitioner testified in support of the application. Upon review of the relevant and probative evidence and applicable law, I find the proposed location is suitable and grant the application for an on-premises beer and wine permit.


Opposition to the new application is based primarily upon the proposed location's proximity to several churches and residences and the moral or religious opposition to alcohol by area clergy, congregations, and residents. The Court respects the right of an individual or a congregation to abstain from the purchase and consumption of alcohol and to not be disturbed by those who do choose to buy and drink beer, wine, or liquor. Standards for judging the suitability of a proposed location for the sale of beer and wine, however, 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 beer and wine is a lawful enterprise in South Carolina, as regulated by the State. This Court has neither the authority nor the inclination to conduct local referenda on whether a particular community is opposed in principle to the sale of alcoholic beverages. This Court must decide to issue or deny a beer and wine permit based solely upon the relevant facts and the applicable law.


By the preponderance of the evidence, I make the following Findings of Fact:

Petitioner seeks an on-premises beer and wine permit for a location at 1900 Highway 187, Anderson, South Carolina, having filed an application (AI #118339) with DOR.

Petitioner Don R. Taylor is the owner and manager of the proposed location.

Upon motion granted, DOR was excused from appearance at and participation in the contested case hearing on the ground that it would have granted the permit but for the unanswered question of the suitability of the proposed location.

Protestant Harold W. Bates is not related by blood or marriage to the undersigned administrative law judge.

The proposed location is in an unincorporated area of Anderson County at the intersection of Highway 187 and Dobbins Bridge Road.

The area immediately surrounding the proposed location is predominately rural but includes commercial and residential properties.

The proposed location is approximately one mile from Andersonville Baptist Church.

The proposed location is approximately 1.6 miles from Providence Baptist Church.

The proposed location is approximately 2.1 miles from Gospel Missionary Chapel.

The proposed location is a small establishment which provides hot dogs and snacks and has a maximum capacity of 30 persons.

Petitioner has operated the proposed location since September, 1997.

The hours of operation of the proposed location are 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m., Monday - Saturday.

Petitioner stipulates that he will close on Wednesday nights and on Sundays.

Directly across the intersection from the proposed location is a licensed location, the Villager convenience store, which sells beer and wine for off-premises consumption.

Another licensed location is approximately .3 miles from the proposed location.

Petitioner is of good moral character.

Petitioner is a fit person to sell beer and wine.

Petitioner has never been cited for a violation of the alcoholic beverage control laws and has never had a permit to sell beer and wine revoked.

Petitioner is over twenty-one years of age, is a citizen of the State of South Carolina, and has maintained his principal residence in South Carolina for more than thirty days.

Notice of application appeared in the News-Chronicle on October 1, 8 and 15, 1997.

The protestants are mainly opposed to alcohol because of moral and religious convictions.

No criminal arrests or convictions have taken place on the premises within the last several years.

The location has adequate parking and adequate control over litter in the area under management's control.

The proposed location has not interfered with or negatively impacted church activities at any of the neighboring churches.

The record indicates that the past history of the proposed location has been relatively problem free.

The sale of beer and wine at the proposed location will not adversely affect the community.

The proposed location is suitable to sell beer and wine for on-premises consumption.


Based upon the Findings of Fact, I conclude as a matter of law the following:

The South Carolina Administrative Law Judge Division has jurisdiction over this subject matter pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-260 (Supp. 1997) and §§ 1-23-310 et seq. (1986 & Supp. 1997).

"[T]he issuance or granting of a license to sell beer or alcoholic beverages rests in the sound discretion of the body or official to whom the duty of issuing it is committed." Palmer v. South Carolina ABC Comm'n, 282 S.C. 246, 317 S.E.2d 476 (Ct. App. 1984).

S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520 (Supp. 1997) provides the criteria to be met by an applicant for a beer and wine permit in South Carolina.

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. Byers v. South Carolina ABC Comm'n, 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 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).

While proximity of a church, residence, playground, or school to a proposed location by itself may be adequate grounds for denial of a beer and wine permit, there is no minimum distance requirement. Byers v. South Carolina ABC Comm'n, 305 S.C. 243, 407 S.E.2d 653 (1991).

When the relevant testimony of those opposing the permit consists of opinions, generalities, and conclusions unsupported by fact, the denial of a permit on the ground of unsuitability of location is unfounded. Fast Stops, Inc. v. Ingram, 276 S.C. 593, 281 S.E.2d 181

(1981). Such unsupported allegations form an insufficient basis for denial. 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).

The trier of fact must weigh and pass upon the credibility of evidence presented. See S.C. Cable Television Ass'n v. Southern Bell Tel. and Tel. Co., 308 S.C. 216, 417 S.E.2d 586 (1992). The trial judge who observes a witness is in the best position to judge the witness's demeanor and veracity and evaluate his testimony. See McAlister v. Patterson, 278 S.C. 481, 299 S.E.2d 322 (1982); Peay v. Peay, 260 S.C. 108, 194 S.E.2d 392 (1973); Mann v. Walker, 285 S.C. 194, 328 S.E.2d (Ct. App. 1985); Marshall v. Marshall, 282 S.C. 534, 320 S.E.2d 44 (Ct. App. 1984).

The issuance of the permit will not have an adverse impact upon the surrounding community.

Petitioner meets the statutory qualifications to hold a permit to sell beer and wine. S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520 (Supp. 1997).

Any issues raised or presented in the proceedings or hearing of this case not specifically addressed in this Order are deemed denied. ALJD Rule 29(B).


Based upon the foregoing Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law,

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the on-premises beer and wine permit sought by Petitioner is granted.





April 28, 1998

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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