Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division
ELIZABETH HELLER, et al. Appellants,
CITY OF ST. LOUIS, et al. Respondents.
from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis 1722-CC11009
Honorable Joan L. Moriarty
GAERTNER, JR., JUDGE.
an appeal from a decision of the Excise Division of the
Department of Public Safety for the City of St. Louis
(Division), granting a full drink license, full Sunday drink
license, and summer garden permit to Up-Down STL, LLC
(Up-Down) for operation of its business at 403-411 N. Euclid
Ave. Appellants are residents living in the vicinity of the
property. Appellants argue that the Division violated the
applicable City ordinance by failing to consider whether
granting Up-Down's license application would be a
detriment to the neighborhood, and by refusing to accept
evidence regarding detriment at the public hearing on the
license application. Appellants further argue the Division
failed to find facts regarding detriment to the neighborhood
in its decision granting Up-Down's license application.
Because we agree the Division's findings are inadequate,
we reverse and remand.
February of 2016, Up-Down applied for a full drink license,
full Sunday drink license,  and summer garden permit for the
premises located at 403- 11 N. Euclid Avenue in the City of
St. Louis. Upon receiving notice of Up-Down's
application, Appellant Elizabeth Heller (Heller) submitted a
letter of protest containing the signatures of 12 property
owners in the surrounding neighborhood.
17, 2017, the Division held a hearing regarding the license
application pursuant to City Ordinance No. 68536, Section
Nine, Chapter 14.08. At the hearing, the Division's
Commissioner heard evidence from both Up-Down and Heller
regarding the signatures collected both in support of and in
protest of the application for a liquor license. After ruling
on objections regarding signatures, the parties began to
discuss the character of the neighborhood and a "Good
Neighbor Agreement" that Up-Down had submitted as
evidence. Heller expressed that such an agreement was not
enforceable and did not adequately address the
Commissioner then told the parties that such documents will
not affect his decision at that particular hearing because he
was concerned only with the validity of the signatures. He
stated that there would be a protest hearing in the future at
which he would hear additional evidence and consider the 13
factors regarding detriment to the neighborhood. The
Commissioner subsequently stated he was going to approve
Up-Down's application but give two weeks to determine
what terms and conditions he might impose on the license.
During that time, he said he would accept additional evidence
from anyone who wished to submit it and would go visit the
premises to further determine terms and conditions that would
address the neighbors' concerns.
20, 2017, the Commissioner issued findings of fact and
conclusions of law accompanying the grant of Up-Down's
application for a liquor license. The Commissioner found that
the protest petition did not contain enough valid signatures
to merit a protest hearing, but he noted that he had heard
the protesters' concerns at the original hearing and had
had additional discussions with Heller when he visited the
subject property. The decision includes 14 terms and
conditions the Commissioner imposed on Up-Down's
operation of its business in light of its location,
Appellants sought administrative review in the circuit court.
The Circuit Court affirmed the Commissioner's decision,
finding that the Division's record was adequate and
Appellants failed to demonstrate that the decision was not
supported by competent and substantial evidence upon the
whole record; that it was arbitrary, capricious, or
unreasonable; or that the Division abused its discretion.
This appeal follows.
review of an administrative decision, we review the decision
of the agency, not of the circuit court. Sanders v.
Firemen's Retirement Sys. of St. Louis. 393 S.W.3d
135, 137 (Mo. App. E.D. 2013). Administrative review of a
contested case, as here, is governed by Section 536.140,
which authorizes this Court to determine whether the action
of the agency
(1) Is in violation of constitutional provisions;
(2) Is in excess of the statutory authority or jurisdiction
of the agency;
(3) Is unsupported by competent and substantial evidence upon