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.

Comments (88) Add comment
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swimmer
5
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swimmer 06/22/11 - 08:32 pm
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0
Wow. My first reaction was:

Wow. My first reaction was: shame on Knob Hill. My second reaction was the same: shame on Knob Hill.

OhWell
326
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OhWell 06/22/11 - 08:35 pm
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0
Karma is bad, and I hope

Karma is bad, and I hope every individual that had something to do with this decision realizes this. This is someone who has fought for your freedom and sacraficed his life and health for you and your families. Your neighborhood is nice but it certainly isn't the most elite in CC. I am sure there will be another neighborhood to welcome this family. This probabily was a blessing in disquise.

countyman
20232
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countyman 06/22/11 - 08:39 pm
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Bad press in a time of war!!

Bad press in a time of war!! I saw a 4 bedroom listed at $199k in Knob Hill... It's not that exclusive compared to some other neighborhoods in the metro area...

Iwannakno
1533
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Iwannakno 06/22/11 - 09:06 pm
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All I can say is you should
Unpublished

All I can say is you should be ashamed. Americans do not go to war, Americans go to the mall. Soldiers go to war! I don't see how the residents can lay their heads down at night. It's a shame they do it under the very blanket of freedom that SFC Gittens and those like him provide. PATHETIC!

showboat
336
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showboat 06/22/11 - 08:48 pm
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This shame that these
Unpublished

This shame that these people would do this Knob Hill, just think if this was one of their family member, what would they do.Shame, Shame, Shame!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

knightmom
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knightmom 06/22/11 - 08:50 pm
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I agree with swimmer.....

I agree with swimmer..... Shame on them....

OhWell
326
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OhWell 06/22/11 - 08:55 pm
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I hope you are able to obtain

I hope you are able to obtain another home in a GREAT neighborhood with people that have values. Maybe a drug dealer will buy your lot and they regret not having a VETERAN as a neighbor.

whitcheywoman13
0
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whitcheywoman13 06/22/11 - 08:58 pm
0
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You people should be ashamed

You people should be ashamed of yourselves. Their Facebook page is being bombarded and so is their Email addresses. I have personally contacted the media and sent Emails to Rev Jesse Jackson and Rev Al Sharpton, along with several other emails to other figures. I personally hope that SFC Gittens and his family DON'T move into your communist community.

momster59
0
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momster59 06/22/11 - 09:00 pm
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They blocked the building of

They blocked the building of this family's home because they were afraid it would bring down their property values. I would like to inform them that they did a mighty fine job of plummeting their property values themselves. I'm sure this news is chasing away a lot of potential buyers. Who would want to live with neighbors and a neighborhood association like these?

CCSports
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CCSports 06/22/11 - 09:00 pm
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And they wonder why everyone

And they wonder why everyone calls it Snob Hill. Excuse me Snob Hill but we would welcome this family with open arms in the Wellington subdivision AND would be there to assist in the building of the home.
To the Gittens family, be thankful that you will not be living in such a pompous neighborhood. To all the military families in Snob Hill... let your voice be heard or move! Fort Gordon should take Snob Hill off it's housing referral system. AC, please keep this at the forefront of your news. To SFC Gittens - thank you for your service. Signed a grateful American.

abeecee
127
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abeecee 06/22/11 - 09:06 pm
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0
Pathetic NIMBY reaction (and

Pathetic NIMBY reaction (and perhaps racist).

StrangeNews
0
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StrangeNews 06/22/11 - 09:07 pm
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He and his family are more

He and his family are more than welcomed to live in the Saddlebrook Subdivision. We would be honored to have a HERO in our mist. But ultimately, you will live in the best neighborhood that God desires for you to move into. Blessings to the Gittens family.

jones811
1
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jones811 06/22/11 - 09:10 pm
1
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As a homeowner in Knob Hill,

As a homeowner in Knob Hill, I can tell you, this is just another decision by a Board of Directors that continually makes decisions without notifying the homeowners. Their are over 300 homeowners in this subdivision many of them current or retired military and I know many that were not notified of any such decision.

I fly the American flag proudly and would have been honored to have SFC Sean Gittens as my neighbor. I am sorry to see such a man's service to our country dishonored over square footage.

Riverman1
84889
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Riverman1 06/22/11 - 09:11 pm
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Knob Hill parents, explain

Knob Hill parents, explain this to your kids.

OhWell
326
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OhWell 06/22/11 - 09:13 pm
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You know the really sad thing

You know the really sad thing about this is these are educated and finaciallly stable people in SNOB HILL. If they did not want them there why did they wait until the last minute to decide to stop this? I am sure this did not all come about over night. I am proud to be a RC resident tonight. Extreme Makeover got national publicity for RC resident and family who were blessed with a remodeled home. SNOB HILL residents in CC you are going to find out it runs down hill. Bet you could not give your homes away right now with a $10,000 rebate.

bigced79
0
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bigced79 06/22/11 - 09:13 pm
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I am a service member from

I am a service member from Augusta and this makes me want to puke. I am going to try to contact the contractor and see what type of donations can be made to build a bigger house in a better neighborhood.

trekelite
0
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trekelite 06/22/11 - 09:14 pm
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0
He already has one house in

He already has one house in knob hill. How many more did he need. Any second, the county shut him down because all their permits and specs on home weren't to code

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 06/22/11 - 09:18 pm
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Dear Knob Hill Home Owners

Dear Knob Hill Home Owners Association,

Do you hear that noise?

Do you hear that whoosh?

That's the sound of your property value plummeting.

When potential buyers plop your name into a search engine, the only thing that will pop up will be this story.

Way to make a name for yourself.

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
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No_Longer_Amazed 06/22/11 - 09:27 pm
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Thank you for your service

Thank you for your service SFC Gittens.

jtys3rd
0
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jtys3rd 06/22/11 - 09:28 pm
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You have got to be kidding!

You have got to be kidding! Unbelievable! Knob Hill residents should all be ashamed.

rmajor
8
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rmajor 06/23/11 - 08:40 am
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Actually, Knob Hill is right

Actually, Knob Hill is right and the builders are right. I am an HOA Secretary, and you have to do things to protect property values. Obviously, this is a well-to-do neighborhood and that family deserves it. Answer? Since they are being so generous, build them a 5000 sq. ft. house! This is not about prejudice or bias. It's about protecting property values, and when you have invested your money into a property and you work for it, the reason you move to a neighborhood with a strong HOA is so that what you have will gain in value and be maintained, not decrease in value. They are a great family. They already live in the neighborhood. They just need to build them a 5000 square foot house.

Brad Owens
4583
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Brad Owens 06/23/11 - 08:43 am
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As a vet I find this

As a vet I find this treatment of my comrade Despicable.

Brad

csrareader
1287
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csrareader 06/23/11 - 08:45 am
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The story will make national

The story will make national news.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 06/23/11 - 08:46 am
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Wow! What bad PR for that

Wow! What bad PR for that neighborhood.

This makes all the rest of the Evans neighborhoods around them better choices for purchasing in this tight housing economy. Good job guys! Thanks for making the rest of the Greenbrier neighorhoods more attractive purchases. (Lord knows in this economy we need the help)

In Defense of Knob Hill residents you all need to read jones811's post. The board doesn't answer to the residents (technically). They are typically non-elected volunteers who represent the views of only a few residents. I know lots of people in Knob Hill. They would not agree with this decision.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 06/23/11 - 08:49 am
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0
csrareader. I hope you are

csrareader. I hope you are wrong. That would not be good for Evans, Augusta or Georgia. Here locally we can pin it on a neighborhood. National news will pin it on a community or city.

G'ment Watcher
97
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G'ment Watcher 06/23/11 - 08:58 am
0
0
I have to agree that the

I have to agree that the answer is to build a larger house. Since the folks already live in this neighborhood and seem happy there, either build bigger or trade for a lot that has smaller houses on the block.

Brad Owens
4583
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Brad Owens 06/23/11 - 08:58 am
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0
rmajor, I will cut and paste

rmajor,

I will cut and paste your commenst here so you can't remove them;

rmajor, Sec of the HOA sez, "Actually, Knob Hill is right and the builders are right. I am an HOA Secretary, and you have to do things to protect property values. Obviously, this is a well-to-do neighborhood and that family deserves it. Answer? Since they are being so generous, build them a 5000 sq. ft. house! This is not about prejudice or bias. It's about protecting property values, and when you have invested your money into a property and you work for it, the reason you move to a neighborhood with a strong HOA is so that what you have will gain in value and be maintained, not decrease in value. They are a great family. They already live in the neighborhood. They just need to build them a 5000 square foot house."

Even if it is legal, it ain't right.

I guess this mans sacrifice is not enough of a deposit to get a waiver on some silly rules you self-important folks came up with?

Greed springs eternal in the human heart I guess.

Property values are more improtant than helping a disabled vet live comfortable, yeah, you guys are AWESOME!

DESPICABLE,

Brad

emergencyfan
0
Points
emergencyfan 06/23/11 - 09:00 am
0
0
"Answer? Since they are being

"Answer? Since they are being so generous, build them a 5000 sq. ft. house!"

You have GOT to be kidding! Forget about how much more money that would cost to build, the family will be stuck with having to pay two times the utilities, two times the taxes, two times the insurance, do two times the cleaning and maintenance...

emergencyfan
0
Points
emergencyfan 06/23/11 - 09:02 am
0
0
"members said the

"members said the 2,700-square-foot home was too small"

"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."

Okay, so your bylaws say the house he wants to build is allowable? Your members CHOSE to build houses in excess of the recommended bylaws, that was their CHOICE. A risk they took when they decided to overbuild. And now you want to refuse to allow this man a house that is permissible according to your own HOA bylaws?

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 06/23/11 - 09:06 am
0
0
This story will make the

This story will make the national news. Don't worry Gittens family, you won't be held up for too long.

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