The outdoor dining area at Rusty Jack’s is part of the East Tamar Highway and the City of Launceston will amend the classification pending a successful development application for the site.
A request to close “part of a local highway” owned by the Crown, and also used as a car park, came from developer Errol Stewart.
He plans to eventually purchase the land, adding to his recent acquisition of the Riverview Hotel, to build two new vehicle showrooms.
At Monday’s city council meeting the aldermen were only voting on whether to “close the local highway”, not on a development application for Mr Stewart’s company.
Alderman Janie Finlay said questions from the community showed there was a lack of clarity about the decision before the council.
“There has been a co-mingling of the two separate actions and I don't think that’s useful,” she said.
“I know for me personally when DAs and use of land are associated with each other it does kind of set the pathway and ... it does invite a decision to be considered.”
To ensure the request for change was not made until the JMC’s development application was considered, Alderman Finlay moved an amendment.
“Once it is approved then the general manager has authority to move forward,” Alderman Finlay said.
She also queried whether the land consider a highway might eventually need to be used to support reduction of traffic congestion in the city.
“That was the first thing we looked at, we are comfortable that that bit of land won't be of value for future transport needs,” director of infrastructure services Shane Eberhardt said.
To agree to close the highway the aldermen had to agree it was “for the public benefit in the interests of public safety and resultant lack of use”.
“The highway’s primary purpose is for transport,” Mr Eberhardt said. “In this case the use of it for dining and car parking is lack of use in accordance with what is considered to be a highway.”
General manager Michael Stretton said the change would have to be made anyway, as the outdoor dining is not a permitted use under the council’s 2016 ‘On-Street Dining guidelines’.
”The proposed use of the land associated with the car yard [also] isn’t permitted … they are both separate processes and one is not beholden to the other.”