PAGELAND, S.C. — Protests by a local church have temporarily stopped a liquor store from opening in Pageland on Highway 9.
Union Hill Missionary Baptist Church nearby is fighting the proposed new store, even though Highway 9 Liquor and Wine already has a sign out front that reads “Coming soon."
Church members are concerned about the impact of alcohol on the community.
"I don't think we need another liquor store," said Temecka Brand, wife of the church pastor.
"We don't need to see people stumbling out of a liquor store."
The store meets all the legal requirements under state law to open.
It's beyond the 500-foot limit from a church or school.
The liquor license was initially denied, however, because there was opposition to the store. By law, the store's owner and opponents will go before a judge in the administrative law court.
Ethan Foard plans to open the liquor store as soon as possible. He worked in the small cinder block building when he was a teenager.
At that time, it was a convenience store that had a license to sell beer and wine, but the building fell into disrepair after being left empty for years.
Foard decided to open a liquor store when two others in Pageland recently closed.
Foard said he'll keep watch on what happens at his store and on his property.
"We're not going to allow anybody to be here for lengthy periods of time.
This is not going be a hangout. There's going to be no on-premises consumption," he said.
Foard said the community should be glad to see a once-dilapidated building bring some life to the area.
"No one can deny that there has been a lot of attention to detail to try to turn this into a productive site again, instead of being abandoned," Foard said.
But church members are also concerned about an after-school children's program they would like to see grow.
"I hope to God it can be stopped,” church director Naomi Miller said. “There are plenty of places to put a liquor store. Why put it here at the church?”
Opponents also voiced concerns that children wait for the school bus in the parking lot near the liquor store. Foard said by law the store can't open until 9 a.m., after students have been dropped off.
The church has hired a lawyer and plans to bring a busload of protesters to Columbia next month, to try and stop the store from opening.
The administrative law court hearing will be Aug. 1.
Traditionally, the court is usually in favor of the business owner seeking the license.
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