Responding to a query on the night, chief executive Ian Cowie said the issue had come before council repeatedly.
He said the council had the right to reject development application recommendations, but only on valid planning grounds.
The most recent spat was over an application, which staff recommended the council approve, to convert a shop at Thornlie’s Spencer Village shopping centre to a liquor store.
Keith Ridley was one of several residents who were at the meeting to voice concerns about alcohol-fuelled crime problems, and asked how a fourth liquor store in a 2km radius could be justified.
Phil Cockram, representing the proponent, said the applicant would run the store professionally, tailor it to food court patrons and consider restricting certain types of sales and reducing opening hours.
The staff report said the 10 objections the proposal attracted mostly concerned anti-social behaviour, and traffic.
It said changing the use of an existing store would not affect traffic, that a liquor store was a valid planning use and responsible service was management’s responsibility.
In debate, councillors voiced sympathy to residents and brought up personal concerns about anti-social behaviour.
Some tempered this with arguments that whether a liquor outlet was ‘appropriate’ was for a licensing authority to decide and was not a valid planning issue.
‘One of the reasons we pay good money to our officers is to put these recommendations before us,’ Cr Ron Mitchell said.
Cr Ron Hoffman said councillors often could not support ratepayers because of their duties under the law.
Crs Ron Hoffman, Susan Iwanyk, Russell Lawrence, Ron Mitchell and Mayor Dave Griffiths voted for, and Crs Wayne Barrett, Julie Brown, Terry Brown, Karen Jones and Olwen Searle against.
The mayor broke the tied vote by casting a second vote in favour of approving the liquor store.