When a liquor store recently opened near them, some in a city of Beaufort neighborhood said city and state officials could do more to review and notify the public about license requests.
City officials said this week they would consider the request after Northwest Quadrant residents told council they feared the store at 1300 Boundary St. would lead to alcohol-related problems such as noise and drunkenness.
"In general, our feeling in the Northwest Quadrant is (that) putting a liquor store in that location just increases the nuisance factor," Dwayne Smalley told council Tuesday. Smalley also said residents did not receive proper notice of the change.
The owner of Beaufort General Store added the liquor store, Ahana Package Inc., beside his shop in early March. Patel Hiren said he and his wife have sold beer and wine at the general store for about five years. He said he was unaware of the complaints surrounding the liquor store.
Liquor licenses are issued by the state, and residents are allowed to protest. Business owners are required by state law to advertise the license change in the store and three times in a local newspaper.
Those notifications include information on how a resident can protest the license, which triggers a hearing before the S.C. Administrative Law Court, according to the state Department of Revenue Alcohol Beverage Licensing website.
Police Chief Matt Clancy said that unless there is a documented pattern of criminal activity or residents' complaints about the owner or the store, he does not protest the licenses. Twice, problems at other businesses have been significant enough for him to protest.
Prompted by Smalley's complaint, Clancy checked with the S.C. Law Enforcement Division on the Ahana application and was informed proper notification had been given.
City Council members discussed adding an additional layer of city review for business-license applications from establishments that sell liquor.
"This is an issue that needs to be on the table," Councilman Mike Sutton said. "I drink and I go to buy liquor from liquor stores, so I'm not anti-alcohol, but I'm saying there's got to be a process that would make sure we know about it."
Northwest Quadrant resident Henrietta Goode, a member of the city's Redevelopment Commission, suggested the city send letters to all residents within about two blocks of a business adding or changing a liquor license. The letters could include information on how residents could protest to the state.
"It would be a fair way," she said. "It would be a respectful way of involving the community they're going to be in."