Neighbors' feud over flooding leads to mayor's son being charged

More trouble in Greenwich
Heather Chapin-Fowler
Aug 25, 2013


A Greenwich landlord is feuding with Mayor Lowell Etzler's son over a flooding problem which the landlord claims is destroying his investment.

Larry Risner, 5 Center St., recently purchased a home that was built in 1948 and told council at a meeting Tuesday that the backyard is completely useless after even the slightest rain because Michael Etzler's runoff is running into his yard from Etzler's 3 Center St. property. The run-off water is not only soaking Risner's backyard but also the crawlspace under the home, causing damage, he said.

"I've tried to work with him as a neighbor and a friend... He pretty much thumbed his nose up at me," Risner said during a regular council meeting Tuesday.

Risner said he approached Etzler starting earlier this summer about the water problem and several times offered to pay for installing about 30 feet of drain tile to run into a catch basin on Etzler's property by the street to re-route the run-off.

But after agreeing to help with the problem, Etzler backed out at the last minute on advice of the mayor, Risner said.

Lowell Etzler reportedly advised his son not to run anymore water into the catch basin because it may overwhelm his system and could cause flooding on his property, Risner told council.

The mayor had little to say during the lengthy presentation by Risner, who passed around photographs of the flooding to the council members, asking for a solution to the problem.

Zoning Inspector Cless Inmon considered buying the property before Risner bought it and immediately identified that the backyard was too low and needed major work, he said.

Inmon said he didn't buy the property because he would've had to bring in "four to five loads of dirt" to build up the backyard.

Officials told Risner his house has water damage because there was a water leak in the home years ago before Risner purchased the property. Specifically, Mayor Etzler told Risner that the water leaked for about a year before it was discovered.

The village engineer and administrator were questioned about the dispute during the meeting, however neither had any knowledge of it, they said.

"We didn't know about it," said village engineer Jason Popiel, who has since scheduled to inspect the property next week.

Village Administrator Virgil Giles told Risner he would've preferred to view the problem in person before making a comment about it.

Meanwhile, Risner, who referred to his family as a "cash cow" for the village based on its taxable contribution, told village officials he believes they have a legal obligation to repair the problem based on an ordinance he researched and provided at the meeting.

Councilman Thad Smith explained to Risner that the village has limited funds this year for special projects.

While a sewer separation project is in the works, an immediate solution doesn't appear feasible, officials indicated.

Whether or not it was a coincidence, after Michael Etzler declined Risner's request, he found himself in trouble for shooting his bow and arrow into his garage from his driveway as he has done for years.

He was charged for discharging a firearm following a complaint by Risner, according to police and Norwalk Municipal Court records.

"Risner was very excited in speech and advised the neighbor is standing on the street shooting a bow and arrow into his garage. Risner advised his daughter and grandson are right beside him in the next house and accidents can happen," the police report stated.

According to the report, "Risner advised he wants the subject charged. Risner further stated that the subject is the mayor's son and he does not wish for this situation to just disappear, he wants him charged."

The mayor never complained or questioned village prosecutor Steve Palmer, who made the decision to charge his son, Greenwich Police Chief Steve Dorsey said.

Etzler told police he was aware there were children in the area and as a result, stopped target practicing in his yard and moved his practicing to the garage, the report stated.

"(Etzler) did not know there was a village ordinance covering discharging arrows in the village limits," the report also stated.

The charge is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree and carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a fine of $250, according to Dorsey. Michael Etzler is scheduled to appear in court for the charge next week, court records stated.

Following Etzler's court summons, police were called to the Risner's residence for a parking violation, according to police records.

A village ordinance prohibits residents from parking on the tree lawn because the street is a truck route, Dorsey said.

The Risners have a gravel parking lot that runs next to the roadway which police recently warned them not to use anymore.

If the Risners continue to park on the tree lawn, they could be charged as well, Dorsey said.

Etzler's scheduled to appear in court next week, according to court records.

Etzler competes in contests with his bow and arrow. Since he is no longer allowed to practice on his property, he was given the option to use the village's shooting range, which is occasionally open to the public, Dorsey said.

Etzler seemed "shocked" when he received his summons on the charge that was reviewed by Palmer, said Dorsey. "(Michael Etzler) said, 'You guys have seen me do this,'" Dorsey said.

Dorsey said he told Etzler, "Yes, we have. But if we get a complaint, we have to enforce it."

The police department advertises the days when the range will be open to the public, Dorsey added.



Greenwich has a shooting range. And if you are a hunter as I am. Then go to the place you hunt and practice. Duh. Why not just let everybody in town that has an ATV ride anywhere they want? This. I might as well practice for shotgun season while I'm at it. People I tell ya. Take them down Larry!


I appreciate all comments and interest but will say that will be the last I post on the matter. I've tried to explain everything to the best of my ability including photos the items in particular that were left out of the article.. There are those that prefer to simply use this forum for entertainment and that's fine but I want none of that. There are those that are completely sincere and whether I agree or not I respect that.
Again , Thank you for reading and all the best to everyone interested.There are much bigger issues in the world and I know that. I never imagined simply going to city council or having a disagreement with a neighbor would create so much interest but guess that's the world we live in?


We've been dealing with worse flooding issues than that here on New Street and we can never get anything done either. They did their "Sewer Seperation System" work down the street... It helped... but... there are still issues... I think the workmanship was shoddy at best and Greenwich should have went after the construction company who did the project and touch up some issues. 3 letters Larry. E. P. A.


I must say this article is very biased! The language in general is very in favor of the major and his pathetic son. Anymore this paper is the equivalent of one of those magazines you see at the store with aliens on the cover. You know 90% is falsely reported yet you still read it!? I honestly think the writers/reporters (I use the term very loosely) are part of the felony back to work reject program. The teaser headlines if you will 9/10 have nothing to do with the actual article or they are a great distance away from the county & are just added for the wow effect when there is more than enough local news to report. But then again scandal & drug sells papers, not the boring positive news.




Larry, you are facing a no win situation here. The entire town is based on "who you know" and what family you belong to. Unfortunately, the whole "who you know" thing is going to determine the outcome of this situation. In regard to the parking issue, I somehow think Etlzer is going to dig deep, and find as many obscure laws as he can to start enforcing. You are, after all, inconveniencing his baby boy! On the bright side, just be happy that you didn't pull out a leaf blower on Mr. Inmon, and/or his wife (who by the way is also a city employee). For those who don't know, Greenwich displays nepotism at it's finest! I wish you good luck, and I would also like to add I agree with the other poster, who suggested you run for mayor the next election. There are probably many people in that town who would like to see some new leadership!


I wouldn't bash officer lemmeyer ! You forget who his boss is!!!!!
He may have a family to support too!!
And to make it sound as of you called and handled the situation by bulling him sounded ridiculous ! I don't agree with the mayor I think he need to step down! He was good working for jfs and he shouldn't be given moee power when he couldn't do that job right!!
It's better to kill them with kindness that bash them with bitterness !
The officer didn't see the crime ! And why didn't your daughter snap a pic ? I believe that this happened and the "son" was trying to intimidate !


a : impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle : depravity
b : decay, decomposition
c : inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means (as bribery)
d : a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct
e : an agency or influence that corrupts

It is sad that 'power' & self-entitlement takes over one who at election time was entrusted by the voters with integrity, decisions, trust and responsibility by their vote to represent them. When those virtues are gone, residents and taxpayers need to take action to replace!

Good luck, Mr. Risner. It's a shame you and your family and residents of your community have to deal with this! But it is apparent from what I have read that the Etzlers have brought this on the community and not your actions!

✰Sooner or later the truth comes out. Doing the right thing will be rewarded in the end. Kudos on your conviction to stand up to the complacent corruption.✰