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Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is leading a court battle against Dixon Real Estate Holdings LLC and owner Phillip H. Dixon over unauthorized construction at the Sleepy Hollow Lake Dam. (Ohio Attorney General's Office)

NEW PHILADELPHIA (Tusco TV) - A Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court order is putting a temporary stop to a construction project state inspectors have deemed a public safety hazard. 

The temporary restraining order issued Thursday against Dixon Real Estate Holdings LLC and owner Phillip H. Dixon halts work at the privately-owned Sleepy Hollow Lake Dam in Perry Township. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost requested the stoppage on behalf of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources after a site inspection revealed unauthorized excavation and spillway construction had created undermined the structural integrity of the dam creating unsafe conditions.

"This dam was already in rough shape, but now it's just plain dangerous because of these illegal construction projects," Yost said in a written statement. "My office and our partners at the Department of Natural Resources won't allow this guy to gamble with the public's safety."

The order from Judge Edward O'Farrell prohibits further construction without approval and requires Dixon to keep the reservoir’s water level from rising above the dam's drainpipe until the hazards are addressed. He was given 8 days to refill the excavated holes and 12 days to finish or block off the incomplete spillway.

The earthen dam is located off County Road 156, southeast of Gnadenhutten. It's considered a Class 1, high-risk structure because its sudden failure would result in probable loss of human life or property. Six houses are located about 1,500 feet downstream.

Yost is also asking the judge to permanently halt the project and order Dixon and his company to comply with the state's dam safety laws. The court will schedule an all-day evidentiary hearing within the next 60 days so both sides can present their arguments.