This is an image of someone's dream house, but to others it may seem like a nightmare. There it perches overlooking the Housatonic Gorge like some modernist Rhineland castle, commanding the view from above as well as dominating it from below. An access driveway has been blasted in switchbacks up the rock face.
It's a big house and it makes a big statement, and there's no getting around the fact that it sets most folks' teeth on edge: a bird's eye view that just flips the bird.
People resent its visibility, the absence of screening and the way it looms over the landscape. Others find it out of character with what they are accustomed to seeing on the ridge lines of Litchfield's mountains. Conservationists are dismayed at the way it fragments the forest and ridgetop, particularly because it abuts a large part of the Housatonic State Forest and the Appalachian Trail. There are competing values at work here as well, especially the tensions between rural and urban, old aesthetics and new, second home-owner and longtime resident.
Then again, it is perfectly legal. To paraphrase W.P. Kinsella's famous line from "Shoeless Joe"; "If you zone it, they will build." Many people considered slopes like this too steep for residential construction - and if you are an emergency responder trying to reach this house up that driveway, it may be too steep to bring help in time - but unless regulations prohibit it, the only building constraint is money. This house was built during the late 1990's real estate boom, and a $300,000 driveway suddenly was not considered a serious obstacle for a multimillion dollar house. Connecticut is a home rule state and towns have significant discretion in what their regulations permit. You can't blame the fox because the hen house door was left open.
When I was growing up in Dutchess County, New York, where the low, rounded hills were still cleared for agriculture and had not reverted back to forest, folks who built grand houses on the crests were called "Hilltoppers." Those wide views were attractive to wealthy city dwellers used to vertical living. The dairy farms of the county either went to equestrian facilities or mansions, and the same thing is happening across Litchfield County today.
The mountains here are steeper but not inviolate, and Litchfield's rolling hills are rapidly being subdivided and developed. As we build farther from village centers, higher up the slopes and deeper in the forests, the landscape changes. Perhaps in a few decades houses like this will seem normal here, like the Eastern Forest without its American Chestnuts.