The View From Hillspoint

Last week’s story about the new house rising on the site of the old Positano restaurant drew many comments. The site — kitty corner from Elvira Mae’s — is one of the most cherished in Westport.

One reader complained that the new structure blocks views of the public water. She implied that it ruined “a half mile of a walk along the beach on a sidewalk.”

Artists’ rendering of the house going up at 233 Hillspoint Road.

In fact, that ship sailed long ago.

What once was a lovely view — from Schlaet’s Point at the end of Soundview (where Hillspoint Road turns into South Compo), along the gentle curve and on toward Old Mill — has been privatized.

A large home at 261 Hillspoint replaced an open-air boathouse. One of Westport’s first mammoth faux stone walls sealed the house — and the view — off from passersby. (It’s now on the market. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.)

The stone wall at 261 Hillspoint Road.

More recently, a wooden fence and high hedge have hidden all of Old Mill Beach, and that part of the Sound, from nearly everyone’s eyes.

A small section of beach — owned by Hillspoint residents across the street — has always been private. But until the last few years — 10, maybe? — it was bordered only by an unobtrusive chain link fence. Now there’s a green equivalent of the Berlin Wall.

There are a few breaks in the obstructed view from #261 to Old Mill, of course. A small public access road provides relief; so does the clear view from #254 across the street.

The unobstructed view across from 254 Hillspoint.

A break for a beach view.

But that’s it, until you get to the public Old Mill Beach.

Last week’s “06880” story also generated comments about the sidewalk. Readers worried that it will be removed from the new house, forcing walkers into the street.

The property owner assures Westporters there will be a sidewalk in front.

Sidewalks have concerned residents and visitors for years.

A couple of years ago, Robin Tauck — who owns the beautiful new beach house directly across from Elvira Mae’s — paid for a sidewalk survey. She worried about people walking in the road, right past her driveway.

The roadway opposite Elvira Mae’s.

A sidewalk extension from 233 Hillspoint Road to Old Mill Beach is in the works. Plans are done. The town is waiting for a state grant.

Hundreds of folks walk in that area daily. With the opening of Elvira Mae’s ice cream window, foot traffic has increased dramatically. When — er, if — a sidewalk is built there, it will be an important safety addition.

Meanwhile, folks will continue to stroll from there to Compo Beach. They can say what they want about the view — when Positano was there, and now during residential construction.

But they can’t say it’s the only thing blocking their view.

12 responses to “The View From Hillspoint

  1. Dan, as big and luxurious and as well located as that Enormohome is, it will be offset by the fact that the citizens of the town will be living with you in your front, side and back yards. Might be Westports most expensive home that many would never want to live in.

    (However I am sure the owners will somehow survive!)

  2. Richard Fogel

    Our government makes it easier and easier for the very wealthy to take advantage and control over the best of American communities like 06880. Drain the swamp. BS. This has always been the case but in my opinion , it has reached a new level of swamp. The big players are in control. In order to make change we have to vote and now the current administration and big players are doing everything possible to control the election process. Have a nice day

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

      Just asking: What does the government have to do with this issue? Or more specifically, are you implying that this is a Trump created problem? Seems to me that Westport has a deep history of both sides of the spectrum hogging the view. As the saying goes: “Follow the money.” But what is new to me is the selfishness and self righteousness of the rich and famous. The Bedford family was involved with the robber barons but they never forgot to share their wealth (and their scenery) with the town.

  3. Why bother with a sidewalk? As we have discussed before, very few folks use it.

  4. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    Bill Mauldin was a sarcastic cartoonist for Stars and Stripes who served as an enlisted man in WWII. He loved to poke fun at officers. I’m reminded of one of his cartoons showing two generals gazing out at a beautiful valley in Italy. Caption: “Beautiful! Is there one for the enlisted men?”
    Or the lyrics of Camelot: “What do the simple folks do?”
    Westport!!! The more things change, the more it stays the same.

  5. How many people Zillowed 261 Hills Point Road…… a view inside the gate.

  6. don bergmann

    A few points:
    1. As part of the variance request, the ZBA required that a sidewalk be placed on the private property in front of the house. I hope it looks nice. It will be used.
    2. Robin Tauck is trying to do good things. She too, however, is not perfect.
    3. When the tall hedges were placed along the Hillspoint sidewalk blocking the view, I contacted the owner of the property to request that the hedges be no more than five feet tall, hopefully four. The then owner was sympathetic, but the house and property were then sold.
    4. I have also suggested as part of any beach area zoning changes that our zoning regulations limit to four or five feet hedges and fences that block “public views”, e.g. those views from these properties at Hillspoint Rd. would be covered. The concept is not much different from restricting the height of all front yard fences, though it has an even greater public purpose.
    5. The “cupola” on the house at 233 Hillspoint Rd. is probably illegal, i.e. not a true cupola under our zoning regulations. However, it appears the fault is with P&Z, not the owner. I am trying to determine how it happened.
    6. While the one fence for the Hillspoint Rd. house that continues to allow views of the water may not be beautiful, at least it is a four foot fence. That is much better than the hedges and bushes on the other sides of that property.
    7. The water front house with the high wall is most unfortunate as to the presence of the wall. I do know that many years ago there was a proposal to make that house much taller. Working with the then P&Z that effort was stopped, with at least one then Commissioner threatening to address whether or not that wall was legal if a much taller house was pursued.
    8. Many years ago, I tried to get the then new sidewalk across the street from those houses not to be placed abutting the road but, rather, somewhat away from the road so that there was a grass area that would be safer and more attractive. The Town did not support my effort and our then DPW people said it was easier to clear an abutting sidewalk of snow than a non abutting sidewalk. I did not agree with that analysis. The sidewalk is cleared of snow with a hand operated, sidewalk snow removal device.

    Bottom Line – Be alert, , speak out at ZBA hearings and if something wrong is done see if you can join with neighbors to address the costs of litigation. Our present ZBA grants variances that go way beyond what CT law expects, but there is no one who challenges the ZBA and the property owners, often developers, have more money in the matter and hence can hire their own lawyers and consultants to obtain what they want.
    Don Bergmann

  7. Joshua Stein

    anyone have pictures of the old boathouse that was mentioned?

  8. I walk the beach almost daily year-round. The views are fine. Yes, some new homes have been built and yes, there are some high fences, walls and hedges but you can generally see along the entire walk from Elvira’s to the cannons. Unrealistic to think property owners shelling out big $ for these homes aren’t going to create a bit of privacy from the gawkers walking by. Feels like another “problem” for people who occasion the beach to get riled u about. Wepo has bigger fish to fry.

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

      Mark, it’s nostalgia from those of us who haven’t yet succumbed to dementia. Nothing less, nothing more. No worries (except for Social Security).

  9. Alex Kuhner

    That’s a beautiful, tasteful house they are building. If it’s being built to modern LEEDs requirements all the much better. This style is much nicer than the mcmansions that usually go up, and will increase in value as people’s taste continue to change.