A compromise solution is sought by Western Bay mayors so supermarkets planned for growth areas are not disadvantaged by a cap imposed on bottle store numbers.
Commercial interests have challenged a joint-council proposal to restrict off-licences to the current 74 outlets in Tauranga and 35 in the rest of the Western Bay.
Tauranga's Mayor Stuart Crosby said the issue was that where there was growth, such as Tauriko and Papamoa East, there should be appropriate liquor outlets but they should be "constrained" in existing built-up areas.
He said the councils were trying to strike a balance because the community had told them they did not want any more bottle stores.
"If there was a way where we can have a balance on outlets then we will seek to do that, but if we can't we will have to lift the cap."
Western Bay Mayor Ross Paterson said the pressure was coming from companies planning to build a supermarket in Tauriko and a smaller supermarket in Omokoroa.
The community had made it clear it wanted to cap or reduce the numbers of outlets, with that feeling stronger in rural areas than in the heart of Tauranga, he said.
Mr Paterson believed they could accommodate commercial interests without diluting the controls sought by the community. "We can work our way through it."
Lifting the cap on growth areas did not mean they needed to take the cap off the whole district, he said.
Rangi Ahipene, a youth worker with Greerton-based Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services, who successfully campaigned against another bottle store opening in Greerton, opposed abolishing the cap.
The greater the access to alcohol, the more potentially negative impacts there were on the community, he said.
Mr Ahipene said supermarkets had come a long way since the days when they did not sell alcohol and they now represented a big chunk of takeaway liquor sales.
He questioned whether supermarkets wanted to be linked with a marked increase in alcohol-linked dysfunction in the community.
"They should be grateful for what they have got and start putting people before profits. They have got to start giving back."
Te Puke councillor Sue Matthews said the council was keen to cap off-licences in Katikati and Te Puke.
The community had given the councils a clear mandate not to increase the number of bottle stores, and that should be honoured, she said.
Proposed Local Alcohol Policy
*Capping the number of off-licences (bottle stores etc).
*Off-licence trading hours 7am to 10pm.
*Pub and club trading hours (excluding Tauranga downtown) 9am to 1am.
*Downtown pub hours 9am to 3am with one-way door restriction from 2am.
*Granting of new licences to have regard to proximity to existing licensed premises and schools.