Westmeath's county councillors have opted, en-masse, not to freeze large swathes of housing land currently zoned "residential" across the county.
Councillors were asked to vary the county development plan in order to incorporate a 'Core Strategy' as required under the 2010 Planning and Development Act.
As a result of the councillors' decision not to support the zoning suggested by the council executive, the matter will now go to the Minister for the Environment and Local Government, who is likely to appoint an inspector to assist the council in having a core strategy drawn up for Westmeath and a new plan of dezoning introduced.
The 2010 Act imposes an onus on local authorities to ensure their plans coincide with both regional and national policies.
They said that there are at present 745 hectares of land across the county zoned for residential development, but the amount required, to cater for the projected population growth to 2014, is just 174 hectares.
County manager Danny McLoughlin reminded the members that the freeze would be in place unti 2014 when the zoning could be reconsidered.
Monday's decision not to ratify the proposal came only after two breaks during which the parties broke into their respective camps to discuss their approach to the matter.
During a heated debate on the issue, Athlone councillor Kevin 'Boxer' Moran spelt out the difficulties for all councillors when he told the county manager, Danny McLoughlin, that in voting for the changes proposed, councillors would be "literally putting the people into the banks' hands".