Neighbors pull plug on injured vet's home

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An Evans neighborhood association has blocked a group that was prepared to build a home free of charge for a local veteran who was injured in Iraq.

Sgt. 1st Class Sean Gittens was injured in Afghanistan.   Special
Special
Sgt. 1st Class Sean Gittens was injured in Afghanistan.

Have more information?

Know something about the Knob Hill situation? Live in the area and wish to comment? Contact reporter Carole Hawkins with more information at carole.hawkins@augustachronicle.com.

The homebuilding group, Homes for Our Troops, says Knob Hill Property Owners Association approved the home's design June 2 but reversed its decision in a later meeting.

A member of the association, however, says the group got only a conditional approval, pending a review of its design; the neighborhood is carefully protected by building covenants, and the final design did not fit.

Homes for Our Troops -- a national organization that has built or remodeled homes for more than 100 severely injured veterans -- had planned to build a house for Army Sgt. 1st Class Sean Gittens and his family this weekend. Gittens suffered concussive head injuries while serving in Iraq. After he returned home, a brain aneurysm caused a stroke that left him partially paralyzed.

Homes for Our Troops worked for four months with the Knob Hill Property Owners Association to get the design approved, according to John Gonsalves, the group's founder. But at an association meeting, members said the 2,700-square-foot home was too small and neighbors thought it would bring property values down, Gonsalves said. A cease-and-desist order was issued as the site was being prepared last week.

"We've done everything they've asked. For them to do this at the last minute is very disturbing," he said. "I don't think there's a community in America that shouldn't embrace this family after what they've sacrificed. No one deserves it more."

But owners association member Tom Rogers said Homes for Our Troops did not do everything asked of it. The group did not have written approval from the association's architectural review board, but negotiated through e-mail only.

"What's important to understand is the family already lives here. They're a great family. We have no qualms with them," Rogers said. "The problem is, that street down there has 5,000-square-foot homes all the way up and down the street there. ... It just doesn't fit. That's the whole issue."

Gonsalves said his team checked association documents, which do recommend that at least 2,700-square-foot houses be built, but Rogers said homeowners in that section built much larger homes.

"We want to protect our homes that we worked hard to achieve, and we want everyone to be treated equally," Rogers said. "These people will have to go through the same process as everyone else did."

Correction

Sgt. 1st Class Sean Gittens was injured in Iraq. Due to a reporter's error an earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the country where Gittens was deployed.

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iLove
626
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iLove 06/23/11 - 11:29 am
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Great idea edubb....I think I
Unpublished

Great idea edubb....I think I will do the same!

Me
0
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Me 06/23/11 - 11:38 am
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It just saddens, disgusts,

It just saddens, disgusts, and sickens me. The person(s) responsible for the decisions of the HOA, God don't like ugly!
As for living in a house that has a few handicap modifications, from experience, it only solves a small bit of problems... if you are in a wheelchair, you don't have access to many parts of the home. How would you feel if you could not go into your child's room to tell him/her goodnight or just to talk? Rooms are not manuverable, halls not wide enough, being able to get into shower... it's almost like being a prisoner. It is bad enough to be confined to a wheelchair/scooter, but to be basically cut off from most of your own home is horrible. With the cost of modifying an existing home, you do come off better to move into one that will meet ALL the families needs.
To the "gentleman" (and I say that loosely) that made a fool of himself on TV last night stated that he didn't want property values to go down... I bet your family is SO PROUD of you! Sir, you are a shining example to your children! NOT!
We have looked at a few homes in the Knob Hill area, but now I, and I am quite positive others, will RUN from any listing there in that neighborhood. The KHNA were worried about property values...guess what? With your edict, the "status" of your area just plummeted!

Chillen
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Chillen 06/23/11 - 11:39 am
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Thanks to those who are

Thanks to those who are forwarding this to the national news (sarcasm).

You will make Georgia, Augusta and/or Evans look very stupid because that is the city/state they will mention. Just like the mostly innocent residents of Knob Hill are getting the blame from you all, the national media will blame the residents of Evans & Augusta.

The words think before acting just popped into my head. There IS such a thing as bad publicity.

emergencyfan
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emergencyfan 06/23/11 - 11:50 am
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Chillen, a bit of wisdom from

Chillen, a bit of wisdom from Edmund Burke...

"All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing"

I'll GLADLY take a black eye for this soldier. God knows he gave up a lot more for me and mine AND YOU and YOURS!

Me
0
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Me 06/23/11 - 11:43 am
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Edubb... I also have

Edubb... I also have contacted Fox news, CNN, AAEO, and HUD...God Bless our TROOPS!

edubb
10
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edubb 06/23/11 - 11:46 am
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@ Chillen So your saying this

@ Chillen

So your saying this should be swept under the rug or something? This injustice needs to be exposed. Or is it not that Big of a Deal to you? Your worried about how Augusta/Evans will be perceived and not this paralyzed soilder and what his family needs. I'm sorry Chillen..it is what it is..This man lost almost everything fighting for your freedom and that's all you can come up with..wow

OregonGirlNancy
0
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OregonGirlNancy 06/23/11 - 11:45 am
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Very sad. Hasn't the Knob

Very sad. Hasn't the Knob Hill neighborhood kept up with new housing trends toward SMALLER homes?

Depending on the street view of the planned home, no one driving down the street will know whether the house is 2500 or 5000 SF. And who NEEDS 5000 SF anyway, unless you're housing a half dozen foster kids or multi-generational home?

Given the right press and positive neighborly response, I would think a decorated, disabled, soldier living in the neighborhood would encourage an INCREASE in property values, not decrease.

class1
299
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class1 06/23/11 - 11:46 am
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It should be forwarded to the

It should be forwarded to the national news media. I am surprise it has not reach the national news media already like Shawn Hannity or Bill O'Riley of Fox News.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 06/23/11 - 11:56 am
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@edubb & emergency fan. No,

@edubb & emergency fan. No, I am not saying this should be swept under the rug. See my earlier posts on this thread. I believe that Knob Hill will do the right thing just from local pressure. In fact, it could have already been decided & we don't even know about it.

You folks are reacting with WAY too much emotion.

Yes, it is a horrible & despicable issue but good grief...... I guess we should just call out the national guard to come & draw & quarter the Knob Hill Homeowners Association.

slwbbear
0
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slwbbear 06/23/11 - 12:00 pm
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Everyone is this country

Everyone is this country should know how this veteran is treated. I can't wait until 60 minutes, CNN, Nancy Grace, 48 Hrs. and everyone else finds out. Especially Congress.

workingirl32
0
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workingirl32 06/23/11 - 12:01 pm
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Hold up now, where is the

Hold up now, where is the 5000 sq.ft come from, the news mix up. The family should of just purchase already build home that are in there budget and stop arguing about Knob Hill policy. That's what make a Knob Hill is the best place to live.

emergencyfan
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emergencyfan 06/23/11 - 12:07 pm
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Chillen And what about the

Chillen

And what about the next soldier? and the next? Sure, maybe a quiet little campaign will solve THIS problem for THIS soldier but a nice big national news piece will make EVERY HOA think twice about trying to do the same to the next soldier. Our soldiers fight enough battles on the field, they shouldn't have to fight them at home too!

jfreitas
0
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jfreitas 06/23/11 - 12:24 pm
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0
OK Knob Hill Property Owners

OK Knob Hill Property Owners Association, educate me.
Tell me EXACTLY, in detail what the issues are?
Is the proposed house too small? Does your bylaws allow a 2700 sq. ft. house? If they do, why can't it be built?

Worldwalker
0
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Worldwalker 06/23/11 - 12:38 pm
0
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Never mind national news --

Never mind national news -- the story hit Fark. I hope the Chronicle's servers can take it.

I actually registered specifically so I could comment (and man, the Chronicle is intrusive with those questions). I'm from across the river, but I guarantee if I'm ever looking to move over there, Knob Hill won't even be on my radar. I don't want to live around people like that. HOAs are evil incarnate to begin with, but that one takes the cake. I'd rather live on a street where every house had a car up on blocks amid scattered beer cans in its weed-filled front yard than live in a development ruled by a HOA to begin with, but these guys have gone above and beyond.

Knob Hill, if you think your "property values" trump Sergeant Gittens' service, I've got news for you:

You're not good enough for him.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 06/23/11 - 12:44 pm
0
0
@emergencyfan. Good point.

@emergencyfan. Good point. But I still think the local pressure will cause this association to do the right thing. I'm hoping it has already been done!

trimmy
29
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trimmy 06/23/11 - 01:18 pm
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Maybe they should rename to
Unpublished

Maybe they should rename to Snob Hill.

comet2u
28
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comet2u 06/23/11 - 01:19 pm
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Am I missing something here,

Am I missing something here, the Board members say:

"...at an association meeting, members said the 2,700-square-foot home was too small and neighbors thought it would bring property values down"

and “We want to protect our homes that we worked hard to achieve”

but I highly doubt an appraiser is going to compare a 5,000 sq ft home with a 2,700 sg ft home. Besides the house is being built free of charge so that SFC Gittens and family will not have a mortgage. Thus, my guess is that it will show up on the assessor's website as a sale price of $0. To say that this one house is going to affect property values is non-sense.

The homeowners need to be more worried about the foreclosures in that neck of the wood, as I would hazard to guess most home mortgages there are on 5/1 ARMs. The foreclosure section in the Chronicle only continues to get bigger. Not to mention the fact that all the builders from Atlanta are building McMansions for less than $400K over in Riverwood. Now these are things that affect property values and not Homes for Our Troops.

iLove
626
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iLove 06/23/11 - 01:55 pm
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0
Interesting comments Roger
Unpublished

Interesting comments Roger Smith (1:31pm)...especially about the teachers!

I sort of feel the same way....see my earlier post about the Graham Family (Extreme Makeover Home Edition).

BUT without soldiers, we would not have freedom....SO THEY SAY. I still haven't figured that one out yet.

Nonetheles, as you have done, it is always good to look ar all angles of any issue. "Use your mind instead of letting other people use it for you."

iLove
626
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iLove 06/23/11 - 02:34 pm
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0
ok Roger, but what if you
Unpublished

ok Roger, but what if you were THIS SOLDIER? How would you feel? You don't think race or even disibility had anything to do with the game changer. THEY CHANGED THE RULES IN MID-STRIDE. Thats how "they" do.

16
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Channing 100Proof 06/23/11 - 02:37 pm
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Going by what's been reported

Going by what's been reported this just seems wrong on a bunch of levels. The HOA has guidlines/rules/commandments for people who want to live there. That's fine, it's their right. But it seems like the home falls within those guidelines.

"Gonsalves said his team checked association documents, which do recommend that at least 2,700-square-foot houses be built, but Rogers said homeowners in that section built much larger homes."

If this is true, then the house meets their guidelines doesn't it? Do Homeowner's associations have the right to deny the home just because it ONLY meets the minimum recommendation? So the other homes on the block went above and beyond good for them. Why punish people for building a nice house that they can afford to heat and cool?

survey1
0
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survey1 06/23/11 - 03:19 pm
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I chose to buy a house in a

I chose to buy a house in a neighborhood with an HOA as not to have the same predicament. I am sure there is more to the story than what is being told by this article. Contacting Sharpton and/or Jackson in this matter shows exactly how you would like to perceive this situation.....

StormVetJim
0
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StormVetJim 06/23/11 - 04:27 pm
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I am a disabled American

I am a disabled American Veteran. We fight (and volunteer to fight) because we love this country and want to keep our freedoms and way of life. This includes Freedom of Speech...So Roger Smith, you certainly have the right to talk down about the veterans if that's how you feel. Many soldiers died for you to have that right.

I think the veterans that volunteer especially deserve anything we can give them. You see, they chose to put themselves in harms way for all of us. If that doesn't mean anything to you, then that is just sad.

God Bless Our Troops!!

Brad Owens
4427
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Brad Owens 06/23/11 - 04:27 pm
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Roger Smith, If I said what I

Roger Smith,

If I said what I wanted, my commenst would be removed. Let me just say this;

Less than 1/5th of 1% of the population has served in an active combat area, less than 10% of them have disabilities like Sgt. 1st Class Sean Gittens, so your comment about "if we gave every returning soldier preferrential treatment we'd have nothing left over to take care of civilians" is just ignorant, misinformed, and wrong.

Besides, its NOT the job of our giverment to support civies, but we have an OBLIGATION to take care of the folks that have sacrificed everything for us.

You must be one of the HOA Board members huh?

Brad

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 06/23/11 - 04:49 pm
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Why didn't those Knob Hill

Why didn't those Knob Hill HOA board members who drafted their recent press release affix their legal names to it?

Patty-P
3516
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Patty-P 06/23/11 - 04:51 pm
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I'm trying to think of a way

I'm trying to think of a way to respond to Roger Smith's comment without getting banned off of the AC.

Your Kidding
0
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Your Kidding 06/23/11 - 05:26 pm
0
0
Once again it is being proven

Once again it is being proven that all people care about is themselves and their MONEY. The time has finally arrived for all HOA's to be abolished and those who serve them be exiled from this country to say Iraq or maybe Afghanistan to let them see the other side. This greed and self centered way of life has to end as we are destroying this great country in the name of GREED.

peanut
0
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peanut 06/23/11 - 05:40 pm
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I live in this neighborhood

I live in this neighborhood and had no idea about this until last night...Disgusted with the decision and am trying to do what I can to help. You are right the board is full of busybodies who obviously do not have a heart or any common sense. Thanks for dropping our property values with your insensitive decision because the other BS that you keep putting out there as your reasoning doesn't fly since I know what the covenants say! A 2700 SF house would look a whole lot better than that empty lot that no one has cut in 6 years!!

Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 06/23/11 - 05:48 pm
0
0
HOA's rarely understand their

HOA's rarely understand their position and scope of authority. Knob Hill properties are a mixture of various specifications and price ranges and square footage. There are plenty of other homes 2700s/f and under.

If the house meets the standards as set forth in the bylaws, they will have no other choice than to approve it. It may take a little longer, but approve it, they must. In the meantime, they will take a PR beating and rightfully so.

It appears from the comments of some of the participants, they were being less than completely truthful thinking that by doing so they would avoid conflict. Lying or partial truths told to avoid conflict creates more trouble than the truth ever would have, unless the truth was unlawful.

Brad Owens
4427
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Brad Owens 06/23/11 - 07:35 pm
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"How many square feet would

"How many square feet would Jesus build?"

survey1
0
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survey1 06/23/11 - 07:54 pm
0
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It would be in cubits... If

It would be in cubits... If the proper channels and conditions are met it is a no brainer and if they were not the same applies.....

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