Wanganui District Council has stopped short of objecting to every new off-licence application it receives.
Instead the council's community and environment committee agreed to lobby central government for more community involvement in granting liquor licences, and to review the council's current liquor policy.
The recommendation before the committee was that it objects to any new off-licence applications, and be informed of any applications to renew an off-licence.
However, councillors were sharply divided on the issue.
Councillor Rob Vinsen disagreed with the motion and suggested the council object to an off-licence application should the application be unsuitable based on the history and character of the applicant, and the location. Mayor Annette Main supported Mr Vinsen's motion and was uneasy about imposing a blanket ban on new off-licences.
"I share Rob's concern for the opportunity for new, quality businesses coming to Wanganui. For example, what if a new supermarket wanted to come to Wanganui?"
Councillor Jack Bullock was firmly in favour of the original motion, saying Wanganui had a problem with young people drinking.
"Go into town on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday evening and you'll see young people drinking and fighting.
"In Wanganui East there are three bottle stores within 200m of each other, so you can't say Wanganui doesn't have a problem with density of bottle stores."
Councillors argued over the two separate motions for nearly an hour, but eventually dropped both of them after taking advice from district licensing agency inspector Doug Bonner.
Mr Bonner said to implement either motion would be time-consuming and could be cancelled out by the Alcohol Reform Bill, which is making its way through Parliament.
The two motions the committee passed were: that council continue to lobby MPs at every possible opportunity over the liquor licensing issue; and that council begins a review of its liquor policy in advance of the upcoming legislation.
The motions will go to the next council meeting for ratification.