A state board that had been investigating Hocking County Engineer Douglas Dillon for possible ethics and professional violations has found none. The man who filed the complaint, however, says the next step may be to file a lawsuit to try to remove Dillon from office. Dillon was elected in November in an uncontested race.
John F. Greenhalge, executive director of Ohio’s State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers & Surveyors, confirmed in an email to The Logan Daily News on Wednesday that the board had met the day before and considered the complaint against Dillon.
“The Board reviewed the complaint at the meeting yesterday and it was closed due to no violation,” Greenhalge wrote.
The official said that materials reviewed by the board included the original complaint and documents provided by the complainant, including an audio file of a conversation between the complainant and Dillon; Dillon’s written response to the allegations made in the complaint; and court documents related to the allegation that Dillon may have past criminal convictions.
Greenhalge had previously told The Logan Daily News that the complaint against Dillon alleged that in March 2018 he was arrested in connection with an impaired driving accident in Stark County, was found by police to be carrying a loaded gun, and later was found guilty of criminal offenses in connection with the incident. If true, this might have raised a potential professional disciplinary issue for Dillon, if it turned out that he did not inform the state registration board that he had been convicted. Whether or not failing to do so would be a violation of state laws or regulations apparently hinges on how serious the offenses are, and on whether they are demonstrate “moral turpitude” – the second criterion being something of a legal judgment call.
The complaint also reportedly contained allegations regarding the way Dillon is doing his job as county engineer. Complainant Andy Matyac, a land development agent, has told The Logan Daily News that a company he works with, Rockbridge Management, has been blocked in its efforts to work out a lot split on a property off state Route 374, because Dillon has demanded that the survey work on the project conform to an obsolete 80-year-old right-of-way map. Matyac claims this requirement is impossible to meet, as some physical location markers denoted on the old map cannot be found where they’re supposed to be. He maintains that the requirements Dillon is imposing on property surveyors are arbitrary and in some cases without apparent legal basis.
According to an email communication from Greenhalge, the state registration board, with assistance from its legal counsel, looked at both sets of allegations, both those regarding the reporting of criminal convictions and those relating to the surveying requirements Dillon is demanding as county engineer.
“It was determined that Mr. Dillon’s actions did not constitute a violation of the registration act,” Greenhalge wrote. “It was also determined that Mr. Dillon was not convicted of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude requiring him to report the conviction to the board.”
Dillon said Thursday that the board’s finding “means there’s no credibility to the charges that were made against me… It’s not like they pondered it for two or three weeks. It was a slam-dunk decision.”
He said he had not been informed by the board of its decision before learning about it from The Logan Daily News. He also repeated a prediction that he has made before, that the board may end up sanctioning those who were behind the complaint, in connection with the claim that Dillon is enforcing improper and unworkable requirements on surveyors who work with his office on land development projects.
“I won’t speculate, but this is going to cause problems for surveyors that made that claim,” he said. “Because there’s a certain standard that you have to meet (in land surveys), and that standard was not met.”
Regarding his work as county engineer, Dillon continued this week to insist, as he has before, that every requirement he has imposed on land surveyors as county engineer is legally justified.
“There are laws and criteria that must be met, and the enforcement of those has ruffled some feathers and made some people very unhappy,” he said. “And I’m sorry that these weren’t enforced in the past, but they are the requirements and they will be enforced in the future, period. That’s my professional obligation and that’s not negotiable.”
Matyac, on the other hand, continues to insist just as emphatically that Dillon is imposing unjustifiable requirements on the work of surveyors who need his office’s approval on projects. He has suggested that in some cases if surveyors actually met Dillon’s demands on such issues as calculating rights-of-way, it could result in disastrous outcomes such as overlapping property boundaries, or stranded “no man’s land” that lies between adjoining tracts but doesn’t officially belong to either one.
Matyac said that despite the board’s decision, he and his business associates are considering filing litigation – possibly even a class action – aimed at removing Dillon from office and possibly stripping him of his professional license.