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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

John B. Casey, Spinners, Inc. d/b/a Spinners, Inc. vs. SCDOR

South Carolina Department of Revenue

John B. Casey, Spinners, Inc. d/b/a Spinners, Inc.

South Carolina Department of Revenue

James M. Griffin, Esquire, for Petitioner

Chief Robert L. Williams, Santee Police Department, Pro Se Protestant




Petitioner John B. Casey filed an application for a license for the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages in sealed containers in two ounces or less (hereinafter "mini bottle license") with the Department of Revenue (DOR or Department). The mini bottle license is sought for use at Spinners, Inc. A single protest was filed by Robert L. Williams, Chief of Police, Town of Santee, seeking to prevent the DOR from granting the license. The Respondent made a Motion to be Excused which was granted by my Order dated March 16, 1999. A hearing was held in this case before me on April 26, 1999 at the Administrative Law Judge Division in Columbia, South Carolina.

Chief Williams, protestant of record, appeared on his own behalf. The issues considered at the hearing were the suitability of the proposed business location and the nature of the proposed activity. Based upon review of the evidence and the applicable factors and for the reasons stated below, the Petitioner's application for a mini bottle license is hereby granted with the condition that if Petitioners or their employees are charged and convicted of violating the Town of Santee noise ordinance at the Spinner's location on two separate occasions within two years from the date of this Order, the license will be revoked.


Having carefully considered all testimony, exhibits and arguments presented at the hearing on this matter, and taking into account the credibility and accuracy of the evidence, I make the following Findings of Fact by a preponderance of evidence:

1. Petitioner seeks the grant of a mini bottle license at Spinners, Inc., at 747 Bass Drive, Santee, South Carolina.

2. The qualifications set forth in S. C. Code Ann. § 61-6-1820 (Supp. 1998) concerning the residency and age of the Petitioner are properly established. Furthermore, the Petitioner has not had a permit or license revoked within the last two years and notice of the application was lawfully posted both at the location and in a newspaper of general circulation.

3. The State Law Enforcement Division ("SLED") completed a criminal background investigation on Petitioner John Casey. The SLED report did not reveal any criminal violations. There was no evidence presented that the Petitioner is not of sufficient moral character to receive a mini bottle license. Furthermore, there was no evidence offered to establish that the Petitioner's business did not have a reputation for peace and good order.

4. The proposed location is not unreasonably close to any church, school or playground. 5. Petitioner operates an adult nightclub at this location and has held an on-premises consumption license to sell beer and wine since it opened in May of 1996. The business is also equipped with a kitchen that is utilized for the cooking, preparation and serving of hot food.

6. The Department of Revenue did not oppose Petitioner's application.

7. The Chief of Police for the Town of Santee, Robert L. Williams filed a protest in opposition to the application for a mini bottle license. As justification for denial of the mini bottle application, the protestant contends that there have been three separate criminal arrests of individuals for conduct that was affiliated or associated with this business location. According to Chief Williams, in October 1997 a patron was arrested after he had left this business for reckless driving and disorderly conduct. Additionally, a former employee of the business was arrested on charges of selling marijuana at a location other than the business. There was also an arrest in January 1999 of two patrons who were engaged in a fight.

However, these three criminal incidents are isolated and not related to the conduct of the business. For instance, the October 1997 arrest for reckless driving did not involve a charge of driving under the influence. Furthermore, the drug arrest of a former employee did not occur on the premises nor did it involve any sells at the Petitioner's business. In fact, Mr. Casey discharged the employee immediately upon learning of these charges. The last arrest in January 1999 involved two patrons who were creating a disturbance in the business and the manager called the police.

8. Chief Williams also testified that his department has received over sixty complaints of excessive noise from an individual who lives behind the business. However, only two of these complaints resulted in criminal charges being prosecuted. Although the number of complaints raises a legitimate concern about the character and suitability of this business, these concerns are mitigated by the fact that only two complaints were actually prosecuted. The Court further believes that the noise situation will be managed through the issuance of a license conditioned upon there being only two additional violations of the local noise ordinance for a twenty-four month period following the date of this order.


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

1. Regulation 23 S.C. Code Ann. Reg 7-3 requires a hearing with jurisdiction in the Administrative Law Judge Division under S.C. Code §§ 61-2-260 (Supp. 1998),1-23-600(b) (Supp. 1998) and 1-23-310 (Supp. 1998).

2. The determination of suitability of 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 upon the community within which it is to be located. Kearney v. Allen, 287 S.C. 324, 338 S.E. 2d 335 (1985). Specifically, the proximity of a location to residences and churches is a proper consideration. However, the proposed location is not within an improper proximity to churches or residences so as to require denying a permit or license. See Moore v. S.C. ABC Comm'n 308 S.C. 160, 417 S.E. 2d 555 (1992).

3. 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 a protestant objects to the issuance of a permit is not a sufficient reason by itself to deny the application. See 45 Am. Jur. 2d Intoxicating Liquors § 162 (Supp. 1995); 48 C.J.S. Intoxicating Liquors § 119 (1981).

4. The degree of strain placed upon police to adequately protect a community is a valid consideration in a permanent or license review. Moore v. S.C. ABC Comm'n, Id. However, the law enforcement resources in the area of the proposed location are not so unduly taxed as to warrant denying a permit and license in this case.

5. Permits and licenses issued by this state for the sale of liquor, beer and wine are not property rights. They are, rather, privileges granted in the exercise of the state's police power to be used and enjoyed only so long as the holder complies with the restrictions and conditions governing them. In considering granting a permit or license, "[t]he department . . . is authorized to establish conditions or restrictions which the department considers necessary before issuing or renewing a license or permit." S.C. Code Ann. Section 61-2-80 (Supp. 1998). The Administrative Law Judge, as the tribunal authorized to grant the issuance of a permit, may likewise place restrictions or conditions on the permit or license. See Feldman v. S.C. Tax Comm'm, 203 S.C. 49, 26 S.E. 2d 22 (1943). Furthermore, 23 S.C. Code Ann. Regs. 7-88 (1976) authorizing the imposition of restrictions to permits, provides:

Any stipulation and/or agreement which is voluntarily entered into by an applicant in writing for a beer and wine permit between the applicant and the South Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, if accepted by the Commission, will be incorporated into the basic requirements for the enjoyment and privilege of obtaining and retaining the beer and wine permit and which shall have the same effect as any and all laws and any and all other regulations pertaining to the effective administration of beer and wine permittees.

In the event that evidence is presented to this Commission that any part of the stipulation or agreement is or has been knowingly broken by the permittee will be a violation against the permit and shall constitute sufficient grounds to suspend or revoke said beer and wine permit.

6. The applicant meets the requirements for the issuance of a mini bottle license pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 61-6-1820.


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

ORDERED that John Casey's application for a mini bottle license at Spinners be granted upon the Petitioner signing a written Agreement with the South Carolina Department of Revenue agreeing to the following restriction:

If John Casey and/or Spinners's, Inc., its agents, servants or employees are charged and convicted of violating the Town of Santee's noise ordinance at the Spinner's location on two separate occasions from the date hereof, the mini bottle license shall be revoked. The protestant Robert L. Williams, Chief of Police or his successor is requested to notify the Department of Revenue of all noise ordinance violation convictions arising from this business within two years from the date of this Order.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Department of Revenue issue a mini bottle license upon the payment of the required fee and cost by the Petitioner.



Ralph King Anderson, III

Administrative Law Judge

May 24, 1999

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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