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A new Panera Bread in the Elmwood Village and an easement for a new Lafayette Square hotel won approval Tuesday from the Common Council.

Delaware Council Member Michael LoCurto said he is confident Elmwood patrons will continue to support local businesses and noted that Panera, a national chain, will replace Blockbuster, another national tenant.

At earlier meetings, there was some opposition among interested parties and neighbors to the restaurant moving onto Elmwood, LoCurto acknowledged.

"At the end of the day, it's hard to tell a restaurant that the role of government is to tell which restaurants can't compete and which can compete," he said.

Panera representatives last week said the restaurant would apply for a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals if it did not get approval from the Council. As of Tuesday afternoon, no application had been made.

There was some question about whether a variance, which had to do with the size of the building, was necessary, because Panera is moving into an existing structure.

In other business Tuesday, developers of a new downtown hotel won approval to construct a driveway in a sidewalk along Lafayette Square. The Hamister Group is developing the nearly vacant Tishman Building, at 10 Lafayette Square, into a Hilton Garden Inn, office space and apartments.

The easement, which is not exclusive, is necessary to allow hotel guests to drop off their car for valet parking, Daniel Hamister, senior vice president for business development, told the Council.

The Hamister Group has an agreement with the city to use spaces in the Adam parking ramp.

No one voiced objections to the easement during Tuesday's public hearing, and the Common Council approved it.

The developer will pay the city $167,000 for the easement, according to an agreement.

Ellicott Council Member Darius G. Pridgen questioned the process for calling the public hearing, noting that the exact boundaries of the easement weren't ready until just before the hearing.

He said public hearings shouldn't be scheduled until the public knows what it is supposed to be weighing in on.

"It looks like we're shysters," he said, adding that he wasn't upset with the project or the developer.

City officials said the new driveway won't be affected by plans under way to return cars to Main Street in that block.

email: jterreri@buffnews.com