South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions


South Carolina Department of Revenue

John S. Champion, d/b/a Pit Stop

South Carolina Department of Revenue

John S. Champion, pro se

Arlene D. Hand, Esquire, for the Respondent, excused

Sheriff Steve McCaskill, Protestant



This matter comes before me pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520 (Supp. 1999) and 23 S.C. Code Ann. Regs. 7-90 (1976) following the Petitioner's request for a contested case hearing. The Petitioner, John S. Champion d/b/a Pit Stop, seeks an on-premises beer and wine permit. After the Protestant filed a written protest with the South Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR), and upon the Petitioner's request, this matter was transmitted by the DOR to the Administrative Law Judge Division (ALJD) for a hearing. A hearing was held on February 16, 2000 at the ALJD in Columbia, South Carolina.


Having carefully considered the testimony and the arguments, and taking into account the credibility of the evidence, I find by a preponderance of the evidence:

1. The Petitioner, John S. Champion d/b/a Pit Stop, seeks an on-premises beer and wine permit for an establishment located at 1526 Jefferson Davis Highway, Camden, South Carolina, in Kershaw County.

2. Prior to the hearing, the DOR moved to be excused from participation in the hearing. In that motion, the DOR indicated that it does not oppose the Petitioner's application and would have granted the permit but for the protests. I granted that motion.

3. The parties and the Protestant received notice of the time, date, place, and subject matter of this hearing. The Protestant did not move to intervene.

4. The Protestant does not challenge the Petitioner's suitability to hold the beer and wine permit. Instead, he challenges the suitability of the location.

5. Sheriff Steve McCaskill testified that the proposed location is too close to the Assembly of God Church. According to his measurements the distance between the doors of the two establishments is a mere 114.5 feet. After speaking with the pastor of the Assembly of God Church, Sheriff McCaskill agreed to appear at the hearing on the church's behalf. No members of the church appeared. Sheriff McCaskill also introduced a list of problems encountered at or near the proposed location since he became sheriff in 1995. That list reveals: 12 entries for 1995 (11 of which were for public drunkenness and 1 for possession with intent to distribute marijuana, all of which apparently occurred outside of the proposed location), 6 entries for 1996 (4 for public drunkenness and 2 on drug related charges), 2 for 1997 (both for public drunkenness), and 6 in 1998 (all arrested at the same time on public drunkenness and drug charges). There are no entries after those arrests on June 19, 1998. Sheriff McCaskill also referenced the death of a patron of a prior establishment after walking into traffic while drunk.

6. The Petitioner explained that the church was built after the location became licensed and that to his knowledge the church members had no problems with the location.

7. The proposed location has been licensed since approximately 1979 until the present. Although the Petitioner has owned the property on which the proposed location sits, he has only been the landlord to the previous license holders.

8. Winners Circle, another licensed establishment, is located on the other side of the proposed location.


Based on these Findings of Fact, I conclude:

1. The ALJD has subject matter jurisdiction in this matter pursuant to Chapter 23 of Title 1 of the 1976 Code, as amended.

2. Under S.C. Code Ann. section 61-4-520 (Supp. 1999), no beer and wine permit may be granted unless the location of the place of business is suitable. Although proper location is not statutorily defined, broad discretion is vested in the ALJD to determine the suitability of a particular location. See Fast Stops, Inc. v. Ingram, 276 S.C. 593, 281 S.E.2d 118 (1981); Byers v. South Carolina ABC Comm'n, 281 S.C. 566, 316 S.E.2d 705 (Ct. App. 1984).

3. The determination of suitability "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, 326-27, 338 S.E.2d 335, 337 (1985) (citations omitted). The determination is not solely a function of geography.

4. In general, consideration may be given to any factor demonstrating the adverse effect the proposed location will have on the community, Palmer v. South Carolina ABC Comm'n, 282 S.C. 246, 317 S.E.2d 476 (Ct. App. 1984), including the location's proximity to a church, school, or residence. S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520(7) (Supp. 1999). See also Byers v. South Carolina ABC Comm'n, 305 S.C. 243, 407 S.E.2d 653 (1991) (the proximity to a church, school, or residence, by itself, may support of finding of unsuitability) (discussing the predecessor statute).

5. Unless there is sufficient evidence of an adverse impact on the community, the application must be granted if the statutory criteria are satisfied. The fact that a Protestant objects to the issuance of a permit is not sufficient reason by itself to deny the permit. See 45 Am.Jur.2d Intoxicating Liquors § 162 (Supp. 1995). Although the Protestant referenced a fatality after a person wandered into traffic, it is unclear where this person had been prior to the accident. There was no evidence that law enforcement could not provide sufficient protection at the location and to residents in the general vicinity. If the business at this location is operated properly, there will be no negative impact upon the community.

6. Permits and licenses by the State for the sale of beer and wine are not rights of property, but are rather privileges granted in the exercise of the police power of the State to be used and enjoyed only so long as the restrictions and conditions governing them are complied with. As the tribunal authorized to grant the issuance of a permit, this tribunal is likewise authorized to place conditions or restrictions on the permit, for cause. See Feldman v. S.C. Tax Comm'n, 203 S.C. 49, 26 S.E.2d 22 (1943).

7. Standards for judging the suitability of a proposed location for the sale of beer and wine are not determined by the local community's religious convictions. Criteria must be uniform, objective, constant and consistent throughout the State of South Carolina. The sale of beer and wine is a lawful enterprise in South Carolina, regulated by the State.

8. After considering all of the relevant factors, I find that the location is suitable. Although there have been problems over the years at the proposed location, none are so serious that a business opportunity should be denied for someone who was not operating the prior businesses. Accordingly, the Petitioner's application for and on-premises beer and wine permit is granted.


THEREFORE, the DOR shall continue processing the Petitioner's application for an on-premises beer and wine permit for the establishment at 1526 Jefferson Davis Highway, Camden, South Carolina.




Administrative Law Judge

February 22, 2000

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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