OXFORD — The Planning Board on Thursday approved a site plan permit for the first phase of Black Bear Entertainment’s planned $164 million resort casino on Route 26.

The board voted unanimously to OK the site plan, which was presented to the board Jan. 13. The approval is conditional, pending approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Engineer Robert Berry III, president of Main-Land Development Consultants in Livermore Falls, said DEP and Army Corps of Engineers approvals were “very close,” and that the Maine Department of Transportation approval shouldn’t be far behind.

In the meantime, he said, MDOT has given Black Bear permission to begin site work on the 100-acre property, away from the road, as soon as the DEP and Army Corps approve the plan.

Peter Martin, an investor in Black Bear Entertainment who was present at the meeting, said he was happy to be a step closer to development. He said with approvals pending, Black Bear hopes to break ground on the construction as early as April.

The first phase of the casino is a 66,000-square-foot building that includes a gaming floor, a restaurant and a lounge. It will include a front entrance on Route 26 with storm-water ponds on either side, and a locked side entrance on Rabbit Valley Road for emergency vehicles.

Additions such as a hotel and spa will come in later phases, developers have said.

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