Neighborhood's decision upsets wife

Jim Blaylock/ Staff
The Knob Hill Property Owners Association stopped work on a home being built for soldier who was disabled by a bomb blast in Iraq by Homes for Our Troops. The association says the 2,700-square-foot home was too small for the neighborhood.
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Just days after burying her father, Sharon Gittens said she was saddened again this week when she learned construction on a new home for her disabled veteran husband and their children was blocked by the neighborhood property owners' association.

"We're all just very disappointed," Gittens said Thursday, adding she found out about the problem late Tuesday.

"We got real excited when we saw that they cleared the lot, cut the trees down and everything, and started doing some work," she said.

The homebuilding group, Homes for Our Troops, worked with the Knob Hill Property Owners Association for about a year planning the home to be built free for Gittens' husband, Sgt. 1st Class Sean Gittens. He was injured during his third tour of duty in Iraq about three years ago.

While deployed, Gittens said her husband suffered multiple concussive head traumas from improvised explosive devices. After returning home, a brain aneurysm caused a stroke that left him partially paralyzed and unable to speak.

Homes for Our Troops -- a national organization that builds and remodels adapted homes for severely injured veterans -- purchased a lot at 1475 Knob Hill Circle, not far from the home the family has rented for nearly a year on Cornerstone Place.

The association gave "conditional approval" on June 2 pending a review of the home design, according to an association member.

That decision was overturned at a later meeting because the 2,700-square-foot home was too small and neighbors thought it would bring down property values, said John Gonsalves, the founder of Homes for Our Troops.

Crews graded the lot and were preparing to pour the home's foundation when they were served last week with a cease-and-desist order.

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," Rogers said. "They're a great family. We have no qualms with them. 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."

According to county tax maps, the home directly across from the corner lot purchased for the Gittens boasts a 3,310-square-foot home. Only a few homes nearby on Knob Hill Circle are larger than 4,000 square feet. Most of the 55 homes on the street are between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet.

Four homes on the street are described as less than 3,000 square feet, while five are about 5,000 square feet.

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

"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."

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greygranny
0
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greygranny 06/23/11 - 11:13 am
0
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I am sure this neighborhood

I am sure this neighborhood is made up of mostly republicans and really good christians that are all for sending our yourng people to war......they just do not care what happens to them once they are sent there and not at all when they return.

I used to serve on an POA in a neighboring subdivision. Other members were far more concerned about the color of the skin or nationality of the people coming into the neighborhood---rather than the design of the house. I had to get out of there.

This is so sad

juantez
234
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juantez 06/23/11 - 11:18 am
0
0
You can give your LIFE for
Unpublished

You can give your LIFE for me..You just can't LIVE by me..

workingirl32
0
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workingirl32 06/23/11 - 11:21 am
0
0
Greygranny, I live in that

Greygranny, I live in that neighborhood, there are misunderstanding, so don't comment any if you don't know the real situation. The news will mix up most of the time. people like gossip too much these days for useless reason.

class1
299
Points
class1 06/23/11 - 11:28 am
0
0
I can't believe what I am

I can't believe what I am reading. Take them to court of public opinion and involve Fox News!

iLove
626
Points
iLove 06/23/11 - 11:33 am
0
0
Money is more important than
Unpublished

Money is more important than doing whats right. SMH

THANKS SGT. GITTENS FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE! MAY GOD CONTIUNE TO BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU IN HIS GRACE!

You know me, uh, would this happen if the guy wasn't black? Seriously?

Remember how upset people were @ Earnie Graham from EMHE. Many of the same posters who support Army Sgt. 1st Class Sean Gittens expressed their feelings about how Ms. Graham should not have had the home built for her.

Her service to the community, just as this man's service to the community, are one in the same, if you asked me. . . but who did?

I love the support for the Gittens Family, though. Only if it were the same for Graham Family.

Girl Scouts vs. Military ...hmm....

my.voice
4824
Points
my.voice 06/23/11 - 11:41 am
0
0
When you buy a lot in a

When you buy a lot in a subdivision you are subject to the restrictive covenants, period. The covenants have to clearly state the guidelines for whatever the requirement (ie, house color, style, etc). Ambiguous requirements wont win in court. For instance, if you have a minimum square foot requirement, you have to state it, you cant imply it, so on and so forth. If variances were granted, the covenants is weakened.

The covenants are public record, perhaps the AC could post a copy of them so we could see whats going on here. I will say that 2700 SF on a single level is a pretty big footprint!

emergencyfan
0
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emergencyfan 06/23/11 - 11:53 am
0
0
HOA's are a law unto

HOA's are a law unto themselves.

I would hope any residents who are bothered by this are on the phone right now with their HOA president expressing their displeasure.

CasieR
0
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CasieR 06/23/11 - 12:08 pm
0
0
my.voice - 2700 seems like a

my.voice - 2700 seems like a big footprint, but if you go to this organization's website, you will see the amazing things they do for these injured Vets! For their wheelchairs, they make bigger doors, for their kitchens, they lower the cabinets, for their bathrooms, they make everything accessible. Everything is on one floor so these Veterans that gave everything for our freedom can DO everything in their own homes! This poor family doesn't need another floor. They love this community, it is a safe and happy community for them. And they need and deserve this house.

These people in this community wouldn't be able to live or afford these homes if it weren't for brave men and women like Sergeant Gittens. God bless him. And for shame on this community.

Riverman1
84110
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Riverman1 06/23/11 - 12:12 pm
0
0
We need to organize a march

We need to organize a march through Knob Hill. I bet the Columbia County Sheriff's Office will lead our parade with police cars, sirens blasting and thousands of people will show up.

insamniac
35
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insamniac 06/23/11 - 12:17 pm
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Is it really that hard to

Is it really that hard to follow the HOA rules? It's a pain sometimes, but that's part of the deal we signed up for. I don't see why a veteran should get an exception. I'm a veteran too, but I didn't call the newspaper when the HOA told me I had to build my fence according to their specifications. Emotion seems to be clouding reason in these comments.

mtxbass1
0
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mtxbass1 06/23/11 - 12:26 pm
0
0
No Riverman, you don't. This

No Riverman, you don't. This was not the doing of the Knob Hill residents. It was the HOA board. Many residents I have spoken to have NO IDEA that this decision was made. Protest the board, not the people who live in that community.

emergencyfan
0
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emergencyfan 06/23/11 - 12:57 pm
0
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Thanks crackertroy. I don't

Thanks crackertroy.

I don't see any minimum size listed in the covenant.

insamniac
35
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insamniac 06/23/11 - 12:28 pm
0
0
SECTION 4. "Total Discretion

SECTION 4. "Total Discretion of the Committee": The committee may reject any application
for approval in whole or in part, for any reason whatsoever, including its judgment of the esthetics of the
improvement and such denial shall be final. All applications shall be reviewed •within thirty days upon
receipt and any application that is not rejected shall be deemed approved. No liability shall attach to any
member of the committee for their performance of their duties.

emergencyfan
0
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emergencyfan 06/23/11 - 01:00 pm
0
0
mtx, Didn't the residents

mtx,
Didn't the residents have a hand in who is on the board?
Didn't they vote to approve the HOA convenants?

emergencyfan
0
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emergencyfan 06/23/11 - 12:40 pm
0
0
"for any reason whatsoever"

"for any reason whatsoever"

Sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen, but wait...

"No liability shall attach to any member of the committee for their performance of their duties"

So, if the committee members are not liable, does that mean that the homeowners would have to foot the bill for a lawyer if someone sued them?

texred
0
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texred 06/23/11 - 12:32 pm
0
0
Sounds like KnobHill has

Sounds like KnobHill has become SNOBHILL --- ! ! ! ! Wish someone would build be a 2700 square foot home equiped with handicap features. That soldier paid a great price in order that the SH folks could have their little shacks, but he is not good enough for them? ? ? ? ?

insamniac
35
Points
insamniac 06/23/11 - 12:36 pm
0
0
The problem isn't the

The problem isn't the proposed size, it's the proposed size and location. That area is where the higher end homes are. My house is actually less than 2700 square feet and only a single level, but I guess maybe I live in the peasant section.. Hey wait a minute!

gjsw
0
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gjsw 06/23/11 - 12:37 pm
0
0
I think it is wonderful that

I think it is wonderful that this well deserving family is getting a home built but I do have questions as to why it has to be built in THIS neighbor. Would it not have been alot cheaper to buy a lot in another nice Columbia County neighborhood. There are quite a few nice subdivisions that are zoned for Greenbrier that were probably just as nice and safe without the cost or headaches this one is causing. I don't know, it just seems like if they can build this family a new home and do it as cost effective as possible then that frees up the finances to help another deserving family. Maybe I'm looking at it wrong but I do think there are alot of soldiers that are deserving of a new home too. So lets help as many as possible!! If someone is going to build me a new home just tell me when and where and I'll be there, I wouldn't care if it is in one of the nicest and most expensive ones around!

Chillen
17
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Chillen 06/23/11 - 12:38 pm
0
0
@qjsw. They probably chose

@qjsw. They probably chose Knob Hill because the family already lives there. I'm sure the kids have friends in the neighborhood and they want them to continue living around them.

insamniac
35
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insamniac 06/23/11 - 12:43 pm
0
0
Good point gjsw. The home

Good point gjsw. The home they're proposing would probably be valued at around $250,000. There are plenty of empty lots in other parts of the neighborhood that would probably work nicely. All this fuss just because it's an emotional story.. It wouldn't even be a story if it didn't have the words "wounded" and "veteran" in it.

IsAmericaFree
47
Points
IsAmericaFree 06/23/11 - 12:45 pm
0
0
Someone help me out here.

Someone help me out here. I'm not a legal eagle but the HOA rules clearly state these rules were created by Knob Hill LLC and Knob Hill Beazley LLC. How is this document still leaglly binding when, according to the GA Sec. of State, BOTH of these LLCs have been dissolved. The Knob Hill Property Owners Association Inc is registered and active. Should the contracts have been rewritten and resigned?

Yankee2kilo
0
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Yankee2kilo 06/23/11 - 12:50 pm
0
0
Although the actions of the

Although the actions of the subdivision are based on money and the heck with what this man sacrificed for his country, it is a little disturbing to me that the Augusta Chronicle baited this entire issue. In their initial story they gave the entire point of view of the soldier's with no mention of the HOA view. The next day the HOA view was given but by that point the pot was boiling over. I am by no means in favor of this sub division's view. It is down right shameful to treat this hero like this. However, shame on the Chronicle too for blowing this up like they did. If this was their intent then they succeeded and should get an A+ for their efforts.

TheArmyWife
0
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TheArmyWife 06/23/11 - 12:50 pm
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I find the part where Rogers

I find the part where Rogers said "We want to protect our homes that we worked hard to achieve" very insulting to the Gittens family.

emergencyfan
0
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emergencyfan 06/23/11 - 01:01 pm
0
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insamniac, I'm pretty darn

insamniac,

I'm pretty darn sure you wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for a "wounded" "veteran" somewhere along the line.

csrareader
1287
Points
csrareader 06/23/11 - 01:02 pm
0
0
Yankee, you can't blame the

Yankee, you can't blame the Augusta Chronicle for the HOA's dumb actions. As Mr. Gump said, "Stupid is as stupid does."

insamniac
35
Points
insamniac 06/23/11 - 01:18 pm
0
0
@ emergencyfan [[I'm pretty

@ emergencyfan
[[I'm pretty darn sure you wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for a "wounded" "veteran" somewhere along the line.]]

How is that even relevant? I'm a war veteran myself, and was actually in Afghanistan earlier this year. It doesn't mean I should ask for exceptions to rules that I don't want to follow.

Like I said earlier, the only reason this made the news is because it's something people will get emotional about without paying attention to the simple facts of the matter.

matjoe
30
Points
matjoe 06/23/11 - 01:21 pm
0
0
I respect the man for his

I respect the man for his duty in war to protect others. As is stated in other comments, there are other lots, other neighborhoods, etc that they can choose. I'm all for helping someone for a good cause. Its a shame that they can't build where they want.
However, I think some of the comments I see are very ignorant in nature- Has anyone considered the fact that some of the residents in Knob Hill aren't filthy rich snobs? Has anyone considered that some of the people have worked hard for their money and secured a nice home in an upscale community- that has protective covenants, so that their upscale community can be preserved? Has anyone thought that there is a reason that Evans is a desired community to live in?

burninater
9599
Points
burninater 06/23/11 - 01:24 pm
0
0
Are you still a Christian if

Are you still a Christian if your mouth says Jesus but your way of life says Mammon? Just curious.

16
Points
Channing 100Proof 06/23/11 - 01:30 pm
0
0
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?

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