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Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Anthony T. Jones, d/b/a Gregg Street Grocery vs. DOR

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Anthony T. Jones, d/b/a Gregg Street Grocery
1309 Gregg Street, Columbia

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Anthony T. Jones, Pro Se, for Petitioner

Dana R. Krajack, Esquire, for Respondent

Protestant: Rev. Donald Hall, for New Ebenezer Bapt. Church




This matter comes before the Administrative Law Court (Court) upon the request of the Petitioner Anthony T. Jones, d/b/a Gregg Street Grocery for a contested case hearing pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §61-4-520 et seq. (Supp. 2003). The Petitioner seeks an on-premises beer and wine permit for the location at 1309 Gregg Street, Columbia, South Carolina. This matter is presently before the Court because of a protest by a concerned citizen concerning the suitability of the location and the denial of the permit by the Department. After notice to all parties and the Protestant, a hearing was conducted on April 22, 2004, at the Court in Columbia, South Carolina. At the hearing, the parties and Protestant were present as indicated above.


Having observed the testimony of the witnesses and exhibits presented at the hearing and having closely passed upon their credibility, I make the following Findings of Fact by a preponderance of the evidence:

1. The Petitioner seeks an on-premises beer and wine permit for the location known

as Gregg Street Grocery, located at 1309 Gregg Street, Columbia, South Carolina.

2. The Respondent, South Carolina Department of Revenue, determined that the

location met all statutory requirements at the time of the application, but was concerned because the Petitioner had applied for an on-premises permit for a grocery/convenience store. In addition, the Petitioner has a criminal record, and the Department determined that the Petitioner was not of suitable moral character to have an alcohol license.

3. The location is in an area of Columbia that is a mixture of residential and

commercial establishments. The Petitioner testified that the store is like a convenience store, as identified by his business license, in that he has cold sandwiches available for take out. In addition, there is a pool table and two bar stools for patrons to use if they remain in the store. He testified, however, that his grocery stock is severely depleted, due in part to his financial difficulties. The Petitioner admitted during cross-examination that he did not have milk, canned goods, or diapers, but did have soft drinks available.

4. Testimony was presented that this location has been licensed in the past for

alcohol sales when the Petitioner’s mother ran the store. The Petitioner has assisted his mother with the business in the past, and has been running it since her illness.

5. The Protestant’s church is near the proposed location. Reverend Hall does not feel

feel that the store, as an alcohol outlet, contributes to a good environment in the neighborhood. The church has had problems in the past with noise and litter from the location. They are concerned about the proximity of the location to the nearby church and its daycare, and the increased traffic in the area due to the store.

6. The applicant was forthcoming in his testimony concerning his criminal history.

The State Law Enforcement Division’s criminal background investigation revealed numerous criminal violations for the applicant, including several counts of Fraudulent Checks, Burglary, Assault with Intent to Commit Sexual Assault, Public Disorderly and Trespassing. Based on this information, the Department of Revenue opposed the Petitioner’s application, stating that Mr. Jones is not of “good moral character” as required by S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520 (Supp. 2003). In addition, Mr. Jones failed to list his complete criminal history on his application. He did testify at the hearing that he had reported the sexual assault which he considered the most serious offense. According to Mr. Jones’ testimony, he believed that he only had to report felony convictions.

7. The Petitioner is at least twenty-one years of age, a U.S. citizen, and citizen of the

State of South Carolina, and has maintained his principal residence in the State for at least thirty days prior to the application.

8. Notice of the application appeared in a newspaper of general circulation in the

area of the proposed location, once a week for three consecutive weeks and notice was posted at the proposed location for fifteen days.CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

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

1.The South Carolina Administrative Law Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-260 (Supp. 2003).

2.The factual determination of whether or not an application is granted or denied is usually the sole prerogative of the agency charged with rendering that decision. Palmer v. South Carolina ABC Comm’n, 282 S.C. 246, 317 S.E.2d 476 (Ct. App. 1984).

3.Although “proper location” is not statutorily defined, broad discretion is vested in the trier of fact to determine the fitness or suitability of the proposed business location of an applicant who is seeking a permit to sell beer and wine. Fast Stops, Inc., v. Ingram, 276 S.C. 593, 281 S.E.2d 119 (1981); Ronald F. Byers v. South Carolina ABC Comm’n, 281 S.C. 566, 316 S.E.2d 705 (Ct. App. 1984) (beer and wine permit).

4.It is also the fact finder’s responsibility to judge the demeanor and credibility of the witnesses and determine the relevance and weight of any testimony offered.

5.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 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). Any evidence adverse to the location may be considered. Byers v. South Carolina ABC Comm’n, 305 S.C. 243, 407 S.E.2d 653 (1991). Further, the Judge may consider whether there have been law enforcement problems in the area. Palmer v. South Carolina ABC Comm’n, 282 S.C. 246, 317 S.E.2d 476 (Ct. App. 1984). Also, the Judge may consider the proximity or the absence of other licensed locations in the immediate vicinity, as well as the existence of small children in the area.

6.In considering the suitability of a location, it is relevant to consider the previous history of the proposed location and to determine whether the testimony in opposition to a permit consists of opinions and conclusions or is supported by facts. Taylor v. Lewis, 261 S.C. 168, 198 S.E.2d 801 (1973).

7.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 alone to deny the application. 48 C.J.S. Intoxicating Liquors § 119 (1981). In this case, however, the statutory criteria are not satisfied. The Petitioner has a criminal record and is not of good moral character as required by S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520 (Supp. 2003).

8.S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-525 (Supp. 2003) provides that a person residing in the county in which a beer and wine permit is requested to be granted, or a person residing within five (5) miles of the location, may protest the issuance of the permit if he files a written protest.

9.Permits and licenses issued by the State are not rights or property, but are rather privileges granted in the exercise of the police power of the State. See Feldman v. South Carolina Tax Comm’n, 201 S.C. 49, 26 S.E.2d 22 (1943).

10. In addition, S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-540 (Supp. 2003) requires the Applicant for a

beer and wine permit to disclose his criminal history. The Petitioner failed to do so fully, mistakenly believing that it was not necessary, because some of the crimes were misdemeanors rather than felonies. Even though he disclosed all prior convictions on the witness stand, the application was incomplete. The Department may deny the permit for this reason. 7455 Inc. v. Oregon Liquor Control Com'n, 800 P.2d 781 (1990).

11.After considering all the relevant factors, I find that while the Petitioner is sincere in his efforts to turn his life around and have a successful business, his extensive criminal record, the lack of understanding of the importance of fully complying with the application process, and the concerns of the Protestants, necessitates a denial.


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

ORDERED that the South Carolina Department of Revenue deny the Petitioner’s application for an on-premises beer and wine permit.




Administrative Law Judge

May 3, 2004

Columbia, SC

Brown Bldg.






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