The ABC’s of Zoning

Recently, a friend posed a question to me  regarding whether a municipality ordinance prohibiting the sale of liquor within a certain distance of residence, schools, playgrounds, and churches may exceed the State’s statute.

S.C. Code 61-6-120 provides as follows “The department shall not grant or issue any licenses…if the place of business is within 300 feet of any church, playground, school within a municipality or within 500 feet…if situated outside a municipality.

For solely Beer and Wine sales S.C. Code 61-4-520 provides as follows: No permit authorizing the sale of beer or wine may be issued unless: …(6) the location of the proposed place of business of the applicant is in the opinion of the department a proper one.  (7) the department may consider among other factors, as indications of unsuitable location, the proximity to residences, schools, playgrounds, and churches. This statute is silent with regards to distance whereas the statute specifically addressing liquors is not silent.

Our Court  has  held that a local ordinance is not preempted by State Law if the ordinance does not conflict with state law. The Court of Appeals specifically addressed this issue when an owner was denied a special exception  to serve alcohol.  For a conflict to exist there must be express or implied conditions that are inconsistent and irreconcilable. Further, if the Statute is silent on the issue then there is no conflict. See McKeown v. Charleston County Board of Zoning Appeal, 553 S.E.2d 484 (Ct. App. 2001).
The State Statute is not silent on the issue of distance for businesses selling liquors, but it is silent with regards to beer and wine sales which McKeown addresses. In my opinion, the ordinance which this municipality has adopted conflicts with the statute with regards to the sale of liquor but does not conflict with State statute addressing the sale of  only beer and wine in proximity to a school, church or playground. S.C. Code 61-4-520.

As we know, Southerners take their “spirits” seriously!