Corrections Minister Elise Archer was met with a group of placard-waving Westbury residents and beeping car horns when she arrived in town on Sunday for a community consultation session on the proposed prison.
Ms Archer sought to reassure residents that no final decision had been made on Westbury as the chosen site for the Northern Regional Prison and the government's decision would rest on a social and economic impact assessment.
Sunday was the first of three engagement sessions involving residents booking a time for a one-on-one conversation with the minister.
Her office is also organising a public meeting.
Ms Archer said there was no definitive date by which a decision must be made.
"I've also got independent assessment being done in relation to the social and economic impact, and that can be released to the community as well," she said.
"Once I have the results from that and we can also consider my consultation with the community we will be in a better position to make a final decision at that point.
"What I've maintained all along is that we will go through the standard planning processes."
Ms Archer could not comment on whether other unspecified sites in Northern Tasmania were still being considered for the prison.
MORE ON THE WESTBURY PRISON:
- Many Westbury residents 'hostile' to jail plan
- Northern Tasmanian prison site revealed
- Michael Polley says Westbury not right place for new prison
- Northern Tasmania Development Corporation defends prison
- Westbury should sense opportunity, mayor of council with three prisons says
- Meander councillor John Temple questions prison plans
- Drop-in information sessions confirmed for Westbury prison
- Elise Archer talks up proposed Northern Regional Prison
She defended the way in which the government had announced its preferred site before engaging with the Westbury community.
"You can't consult with the community without there being a preferred site," Ms Archer said.
Westbury Region Against the Prison carried out its own public survey of about 130 residents in the town's main street, starting with questions about their attitude to living in Westbury before progressing to their thoughts on the prison proposal.
As a result, group members waved placards stating 82 per cent had expressed opposition to the prison.
WRAP president Linda Poulton said the group remained positive it could stop the prison being built in the town's industrial estate.
"We believe that if it does go through to the planning assessment phase we've got some really good arguments," she said.
"Most of our group are not necessarily opposed to this being in the valley. We just don't think it should destroy a town in the process of being planted in the valley somewhere."