Wednesday, July 30, 2014
The South Carolina Department of Revenue has denied the convenience store Mia Quickstop a permit to sell beer and wine, but the owner is appealing the initial ruling.
The store is located across the street from Alston Middle School, in a building that once housed another convenience store called L&M. It recently opened as Mia Quickstop with a new owner.
Russell Hilton, the store owner’s lawyer, said the owner submitted a letter for an appeal.
Hilton said the Department of Revenue rejected the store’s beer and wine permit because of protests filed by neighborhood residents, as well as by Alston Middle School Principal Thad Schmenk.
“By law they have to deny the license,” Hilton said.
Jean Funches, a taxpayer rights advocate with the Department of Revenue, said the department issued a notice of determination to the owner on July 15. However, she said, the owner has the right to appeal and have a hearing to explain his position.
Despite the protests, the Department of Revenue determined that the owner “has met all other statutory requirements.”
Hilton said a letter for an appeal was sent July 23.
Hilton said it could still take a couple of months before the matter is heard by the Administrative Law Court. That hearing will discuss whether Mia Quickstop’s location is a suitable one for selling beer and wine.
Hilton said the owner manages multiple convenience stores.
“Any legitimately run business, which the owner has demonstrated he has been able to do, is not going to be troublesome for the community,” Hilton said. “A legitimate business could add a lot of benefit.”
In 2011, Summerville shut down L&M, with police alleging the store was in reality an illegal pool hall that was allowing drinking on the site – something it was not licensed to do.
In June citizens from surrounding neighborhoods began gathering 250 signatures to prevent the new store from obtaining a beer and wine license. Residents were concerned about the store selling beer and wine that close to school property.
Lewis Smith, founder of the Community Resource Center in Summerville, approached the Dorchester District Two school board June 9 about the issue. On June 23, DD2 board members voted to submit a letter of concern to the Department of Revenue, “voicing concerns of the potentially negative influence of alcohol sales taking place within sight of very impressionable 10 to 12 year old children.”
DD2’s letter goes on to inform the Department of Revenue that the new Alston Bailey Elementary School is being built on a shared campus adjacent to the middle school.
“Sale of alcoholic beverages in the immediate vicinity of public schools is certainly not compatible with the quality of life that our school district supports,” the letter states.
DD2 board Chairwoman Gail Hughes said if the convenience store does, in fact, end up getting its license to sell beer and wine that she would just hope the store would take precautions to ensure students are safe during school hours.
“Our utmost concern is the safety of our students, and obviously we are not the powers ... that make that decision,” she said. “If they see fit to award him the license then obviously they researched it and don’t see it to be a threat.
“We want to work with them,” Hughes added. “This was never an intent to hurt the business.
“We were just trying to bring awareness to the people who do the licensing.”