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Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Charles E. Ransom, Jr., d/b/a Buster’s Place vs. DOR

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Charles E. Ransom, Jr., d/b/a Buster’s Place
2447 Orange Grove Road, Bamberg, SC

South Carolina Department of Revenue

For the Petitioner: Charles E. Ransom, Jr., Pro Se

For the Protestant: Frank Ransom, Jr., Pro Se

For Respondent Department of Revenue: Excused




This matter comes before the Administrative Law Court (ALC or Court) pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-90 (Supp. 2003), § 61-4-520 (Supp. 2003), and S. C. Code Ann. §§ 1-23-310 et seq. (1986 & Supp. 2003), for a contested case hearing. Charles E. Ransom, Jr., seeks an on-premise beer and wine permit for Buster’s Place, a location previously licensed for the sale of beer and wine on-premises. On May 6, 2004, Respondent Department of Revenue (Department) made a Motion to be Excused stating that but for the protest of a concerned citizen, the Department would have found this location to be suitable. This motion was granted by my Order dated May 21, 2004. A hearing was held in this matter on June 29, 2004, at the offices of the Administrative Law Court in Columbia, South Carolina.


Having observed the witnesses and exhibits presented at the hearing and closely passed upon their credibility, taking into consideration the burden of persuasion by the parties, I make the following Findings of Fact by a preponderance of evidence:

1.Notice of the time, date, place and subject matter of the hearing was given to the Petitioner, the Department, and the Protestant.

2.The Petitioner seeks an on-premise beer and wine permit for Buster’s Place located in Bamberg County at 2447 Orange Grove Road, Bamberg, South Carolina. Charles E. Ransom, Jr., the sole proposed owner of this business, is leasing the location under a thirty (30) year lease. The proposed location is four (4) miles south of the City of Bamberg in a somewhat sparsely populated area of Bamberg County. A community soft-ball field that has been previously maintained by Bamberg County is across from the location. The Petitioner testified that, if approved, the location would be a sports bar type of establishment with pool tables, and other bar games such as video games. It would also have televisions to show sporting events. Furthermore, the Petitioner set forth that the location may have music in the form of local live bands, but any noise emanating from the location would be subject to the noise restrictions set forth below in the Order portion of this Final Order and Decision. Ultimately, the Petitioner set forth that he wanted to lay out this type of business at the location to see if support existed in the area to sustain a local sports bar.

3.The qualifications set forth in S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520 (Supp. 2003) concerning the residency and age of the applicant are properly established. Furthermore, Mr. Ransom has not had a permit or license revoked within the last two (2) years and public notice of the application was lawfully posted both at the location and in a newspaper of general circulation.

4.The applicant has no criminal record and is of sufficient moral character to receive a beer and wine permit.

5.The proposed location is not unreasonably close to any church, school or playground.

6.Several of the Petitioner’s relatives, including his uncle (the Protestant) and parents reside in the general vicinity of the proposed location. Protestant Frank Ransom, Jr., who lives approximately between three hundred (300) to five hundred (500) feet from the location, set forth several grounds as the basis for his protest that this location is no longer suitable to be permitted for the sale of beer and wine on-premises. Footnote His main concerns are:

a.Noise emanating from the location will keep him up at night;

b.Parking at the location is not adequate and the possible damage caused by cars to his fence;

c.Individuals loitering outside the location, which includes outdoor urination and profanity; and

d.Trash the location could generate.

First, Protestant Ransom contends that the noise coming from the location when it was previously permitted disturbed him during early evening hours and then kept him up at night. He set forth that the bar was run as a disco on the week-ends with loud music keeping him up until the early hours of the morning (e.g., 3:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.). When Protestant Ransom asked the location to keep the music down, the previous owner refused to comply with his requests. Nevertheless, he agreed that if this location was permitted with the restriction that no noise can be heard inside his home from the location, that restriction would alleviate this concern. Footnote

Second, Protestant Ransom is concerned that parking at the location is inadequate based on past experience. Although the nearby baseball field could provide sufficient parking, the field itself does not belong to the proposed location but rather to relatives of both the Protestant and the Petitioner. The Protestant constructed a fence around his property to prevent patrons of the location from parking on his property when it was previously open. Protestant Ransom testified that his fence had been damaged by patrons hitting the fence with their cars.

Third, Protestant Ransom is concerned about loitering around the location. Specifically, he contends that when the location was formerly in operation that customers hung out around the location using loud profanity and urinating. The Petitioner set forth at the hearing that he realizes this is a security concern and that he will have employees to monitor the location and its surrounding areas for loiterers.

Finally, trash around the location and on the adjacent roadways was a primary concern of the Protestant, especially in light of the fact that he resides in close proximity to the proposed bar. However, again, the Petitioner set forth that he would be personally responsible for the removal of litter and debris around the location.

7.This location is situated within close proximity to several residences. Moreover, the previous history of the location is not exemplary of the kind of business that would be welcomed in the area. On the other hand, as set forth below, the fact that this location has been previously permitted for the sale of beer and wine on-premises, is a factor that weighs in favor of the applicant. Furthermore, the Petitioner has represented that he intends to operate a sports bar rather than a traditional club. Though the history of the previous location was unfavorable, it does not appear that a sports bar would create a negative effect upon the area. Additionally, although the proximity to the Protestant’s residence in particular does not make the location unsuitable, I nonetheless find that the previous excessive noise, problems with parking, and trash and loitering issues create the potential that the operation of the location will adversely effect the neighborhood, therefore warranting restrictions on this permit.

Thus, I find that the proposed location is suitable for an on-premise beer and wine permit with the restrictions set forth below. These restrictions are necessary to protect the integrity of the community. Nevertheless, my determination that the location is suitable, even with the restrictions below, is based upon the Petitioners representations of the character of the business. Operation of the proposed location in any other manner than that approved within this Final Order and Decision certainly presents a greater potential adverse impact on the community. Consequently, the proposed location will not be suitable if the applicant does not comply with these restrictions or changes the nature of his business.


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

1.S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-600 (Supp. 2003) grants jurisdiction to the Administrative Law Court to hear contested cases under the Administrative Procedures Act.

2.S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-260 (Supp. 2003) grants the Administrative Law Court the responsibilities to determine contested matters governing alcoholic beverages, beer and wine.

3.S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-520 (Supp. 2003) sets forth the requirements for the issuance of a beer and wine permit.

4.Although "proper location" is not statutorily defined, the Administrative Law Court is vested, as the trier of fact, with the authority to determine the fitness or suitability of a particular location. Fast Stops, Inc. v. Ingram, 276 S.C. 593, 281 S.E.2d 181 (1981). 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 upon the community within which it is to be located. Kearney v. Allen, 287 S.C. 324, 338 S.E.2d 335 (1985). In determining the suitability of a location, it is proper for this Court to consider any evidence that demonstrates the adverse effect the proposed location will have on the community. Palmer v. S.C. ABC Comm'n, 282 S.C. 246, 317 S.E.2d 476 (Ct. App. 1984). It is also relevant to consider the previous history of the location. Smith v. Pratt, 258 S.C. 504, 189 S.E.2d 301 (1972); Taylor v. Lewis, et al., 261 S.C. 168, 198 S.E.2d 801 (1973). Furthermore, in considering the suitability of a location, it is relevant to consider whether the testimony in opposition to the granting of a license is based on opinions, generalities and conclusions, or whether the case is supported by facts. Smith v. Pratt, 258 S.C. 504, 189 S.E.2d 301 (1972); Taylor v. Lewis, et al., 261 S.C. 168, 198 S.E.2d 801 (1973).

5.“A liquor license or permit may properly be refused on the ground that the location of the establishment would adversely affect the public interest, that the nature of the neighborhood and of the premises is such that the establishment would be detrimental to the welfare . . . of the inhabitants, or that the manner of conducting the establishment would not be conducive to the general welfare of the community.” 48 C.J.S. Intoxicating Liquors § 121 at 501 (1981).

6.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). I conclude that this proposed location would not adversely impact this community if the location is operated with strict adherence to the restrictions set forth below.

7.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. The Administrative Law Court, 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 Commission, 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 on 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.


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

ORDERED that the application for an on-premise beer and wine permit of Charles E. Ransom, Jr., d/b/a Buster’s Place, be granted, upon the Petitioner entering into a written agreement with the Department incorporating the following restrictions set forth below:

1.The Petitioner shall not allow excessive noise to emanate from this location. For the purposes of this restriction, any conviction for the violation of the county noise ordinance shall be considered prima facie evidence of a violation of this provision. Also, noise from this location shall not be heard from inside the residence of the Protestant’s home.

2.The Petitioner shall maintain adequate parking around the location. No patrons shall park on the Protestant’s property or adjacent to his property. The Petitioner shall also make every effort to prohibit parking on the nearby baseball field or its surrounding area unless granted written permission by the property owners.

3.The Petitioner or his employees shall prohibit loitering, the consumption of beer or wine, loud profanity and public urination in the areas around the proposed location, including the nearby ball field. The Petitioner must instruct any loiterers who are present to leave the premises or come inside the location and promptly notify law enforcement if the loiterer fails to quickly comply with the request.

4.The Petitioner or his employees shall routinely pick up litter and debris strewn by his patrons on the grounds of the location and its adjacent areas.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a violation of the above restrictions be considered a violation against the permit and may result in a fine, suspension or revocation.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Department resume processing the Petitioner’s application and issue an on-premise beer and wine permit to the Petitioner upon payment of the proper fees and costs.



Ralph King Anderson III

Administrative Law Judge

July 23, 2004

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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