2004-10-22 / News

Forest Hills residents protest liquor license

By Rachel Haynie

Convenience store on Forest Drive has renewed lliquor license
Convenience store on Forest Drive has renewed lliquor license

Members of the Forest Hills Neighborhood Association are rallying this week in the Edgar Brown Building. Administrative Law Judge Ralph King Anderson III is expected to decide a case about which residents are up in arms.

At issue is the liquor license renewal application for a Forest Drive convenience store located near many of the homeowners in the close–knit neighborhood. The application to renew the license, issued in 1983, was made by owner of the property, Wayne Sharp, a Columbia businessman.

By law, residents’ proximity to the retail location gives them legal standing and a right to protest renewal of the permit. The homeowners’ association opposed renewal of the liquor license on July 1, 2004, stating in writing its intention to appear at a hearing on the matter.

Protestors are mandated to submit specific reasons why an application should be denied.

The homeowners’ association letter cited law enforcement problems originating from the location and its patrons. Those problems, as stated, range from littering and loitering to vandalism, theft, robbery, and drug activity.

On July 27, Sharp’s application to the SC Department of Revenue was denied due to public protest. Three days later Sharp’s attorney Ken Allen wrote that his client was waiving further agency consideration and was requesting a contested case hearing before the Administrative Law Court as soon as possible. Allen paid the filing fee on behalf of his client. Such a case only goes to the Administrative Law Court if the applicant requests it.

Attorney Stephen Bates, retained by the neighborhood association, requested all information pertinent to protests, citations, and violations relevant to the location. Then, on August 4, 2004, Nicholas Sipe, chief council for regulatory litigation, ruled that if it were not for the question of suitability of the location, the permit would have been issued since there was no evidence to support denying the application.

The neighborhood association’s motion to intervene was granted August 24, 2004. Originally, a hearing had been scheduled for September 28, 2004, but a continuance was granted because a material witness for the neighborhood association would have been unavailable on that date.

The applicant’s attorney had requested that the convenience store be allowed to continue selling alcohol while the matter was being considered. The SC Department of Revenue, to whom the application for license renewal was made, has been excused from appearing at the hearing.

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