OXFORD — A Black Bear Entertainment spokesman said Wednesday that developers don’t foresee any hang-ups in the site plan permit for the casino due to the reassignment of Maine Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Darryl Brown.

Peter Martin, government affairs adviser for Black Bear, said the Oxford casino project is going forward as planned.

“From our perspective at Black Bear, it will still be business as usual,” Martin said Wednesday. He said Black Bear’s attorneys are in the process of replying to an appeal from the Androscoggin River Alliance and 18 Oxford land owners, which alleges environmental and water quality permits were issued prematurely and incorrectly.

“It’s our belief that we will move forward on the merits of our DEP approval, and his reappointment should not interrupt that process,” Martin said. Black Bear has begun cutting trees on the Pigeon Hill site off Route 26.

The Androscoggin River Alliance had complained to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about a potential conflict of interest with the DEP permit, as Brown owns Main-Land Development, the company Black Bear hired for site planning.

A provision of the Clean Water Act says that “no board or body which approves permit applications or portions thereof shall include, as a member, any person who receives, or has during the previous two years received,” 10 percent or more of his or her gross personal income “directly or indirectly from permit holders or applicants for a permit.”

Martin said he wasn’t concerned that Black Bear’s DEP permit could be invalidated by the attorney general’s decision.

“I don’t think there’s precedent for that,” Martin said.

Special Assistant to the Attorney General Brenda Kielty said the attorney general had no comment on the possible impact on permits issued under Brown.

“I don’t know when or how it would be decided,” Kielty said. She said a letter from Attorney General William J. Schneider on Brown’s disqualification didn’t touch on possible effects to already-issued permits.

Brown said Wednesday that one of the reasons he stepped down from the commissioner post was the perceived conflict of interest with the casino project.

“When the appeal came in last week on the largest construction project in the state of Maine, with $165 million in investment and hundreds of jobs, it left me with the feeling that it was time (to step down),” Brown said.

“I don’t want to stand in the way of what the governor perceives as moving the economy forward,” he said.

The DEP had previously announced that Brown removed himself from the review process for the casino, as well as his leadership role at Main-Land Development.

Steve Hinchman, a Bath attorney who represents the Androscoggin River Alliance, said the attorney general had strengthened the ARA’s case.

“The Attorney General’s letter only deepens the problems for the Oxford casino permit, which contains gross violations of permitting law,” he said. Hinchman said the ruling raises additional questions about how the permit was expedited under Brown’s leadership.

He said his group attempted to tell the governor’s office about Brown’s potential violation of the Clean Water Act. “At the end of the day this was a real mistake of the governor’s office, his transition team and his lawyers. To not recognize this is troubling. … It’s not like this is some obscure, hidden provision in the Clean Water Act.”

Black Bear plans to complete the first phase of the $165 million project over the next year. That includes a 65,000-square-foot building with slot machines, gaming tables and a restaurant. The goal is to open the resort casino by the first quarter of 2012.

The Department of Environmental Protection, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Oxford Planning Board have approved a site plan for the project.

Staff Writer Steve Mistler contributed to this report.

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