Port Macquarie-Hastings Council struggled with the "incredibly confusing" matter of car parking and car parking offsets at its February meeting.
In front of a packed public gallery of about 250 residents, council was discussing a planned commercial premises and tourist and visitor accommodation.
The development fell 21 car spaces short of council's development control plan.
The estimated cost of the Clarence Street development is $14 million.
The seven storey building would comprise basement level parking with ground floor commercial and tourist accommodation over levels one to six.
The building would include 47 apartments comprising 4 x 3 bedroom units (with dual key arrangement), 28 x 2 bedroom units (with dual key arrangement), 12 x 2 bedroom units and 3 x 1 bedroom units.
With the combination of dual key arrangements the proposal may provide for up to 79 leasable units.
Addressing the chamber on behalf of the developers, David Pensini asked council to support the majority decision by the development assessment panel and defer a decision.
"This will give the developer the chance to review the car parking shortfall rather than relying on the contribution plans," Mr Pensini said.
"There are some options to provide car parking onsite and the proponent would like that opportunity to decide and then come back to council.
"We believe there is a strong opportunity to come up with a decision rather than via contribution," he said.
That response drew the ire of acting mayor Lisa Intemann.
"Sorry to hear your expectations that council would require fewer car parking spaces," she said.
"Particularly when you say you would be accepting of it going back to council staff to discuss arrangements."
Cr Justin Levido asked general manager Craig Swift-McNair about car parking contributions.
On the matter of this whole concept of collecting money for car parking contributions, are we getting anywhere close to preparing anything for a car parking solution for the public?Cr Justin Levido
"On the matter of this whole concept of collecting money for car parking contributions, are we getting anywhere close to preparing anything for a car parking solution for the public?" he asked.
"No" was the simple reply.
Cr Levido: "Again this issue of incredibly confusing application of car parking policy where it has been generally put to us. We believe there is a 21 car park deficit while the developer reckons it's just three spaces.
"The applicant can go back and look at this long and hard and come back to us.
"But we have a crisis in Port Macquarie where parking contributions don't work anymore.
"This is a good case where we can say to the applicant and the community that this does not suit us.
"We need to make a stand," he said.
Cr Rob Turner spoke in support of the developer and said: "I don't think telling everyone that we are closed to business is a good idea," he said.
Cr Levido: "What opportunity do we have as the elected representatives that we take car parking seriously?
"I take what Cr Turner is saying, but it is an absolute dog's breakfast.
"This is a glaring problem and the perfect situation for us to say this is a bridge too far and we just say no.
"The developer will take a lot of notice and the members of the DAP will take notice," he said.
Acting mayor Lisa Intemann said she "heartily endorsed" Cr Levido's move on this matter.
"It is way past time (for councillors to act on the matter).
"Frankly, it is disappointing that the proponent is now saying that they would rather spend money on the development than on car parking contributions.
"I agree with Cr Levido. It is time that developers realised we are serious about car parking.
"We need to start to rationalise how we approach these matters."
Council voted to defer the application allowing time for the applicant to readdress non-compliance with council's car parking provisions.
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