News 12 first met Sergeant First Class Sean Gittens in March through a story about Homes for Our Troops. The nonprofit organization makes homes more accessible for members of the armed services who are confined to wheelchairs.
On June 21, we found out that the Knob Hill Property Owners Association in Evans, Ga., reversed its prior approval to allow Gittens to build a home in the community.
Construction on the 2,700-square-foot home was supposed to start this month. A cease and desist letter was sent to contractors on the site, and they were told that the house needs to be at least 3,400 square feet and multi-leveled to even be considered.
Homes for Our Troops purchased the land in December and had been working on getting the house built. On Friday, June 24, the president of the Knob Hill Property Owners Association said plans were moving forward for the home's construction.
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Both organizations had said they hoped to make a joint announcement on Monday, June 27, in regards to moving forward with the plans.
On Monday, June 27, the joint announcement did not come. Instead, News 12 heard from Sgt. Gittens' wife, Sharon, who said she no longer wanted to live in the Knob Hill community.
Sharon said she no longer felt welcome in the Evans neighborhood because of the dispute between Homes for Our Troops and the Knob Hill Property Owners Association.
Later that day, Homes for Our Troops President John Gonsalves issued a statement saying the organization was going to move the project to another area.
He said he believed the two organizations could have found a solution but wanted to respect the family's wishes, as Sharon does not feel comfortable staying in Knob Hill.
"The fact that she no longer felt welcome in the community speaks volumes about the way this matter was handled," Gonsalves said in the press release.
Now the organization is back to square one and is on the hunt for a new lot. News 12 is told they are already in talks with a few builders.
"I'm confident that someone will step up and help find us a lot to build a new home," Sharon said.
Homes for Our Troops says they would have never picked Knob Hill if they had known how picky the board members would be.
"It had everything that these other homes here have, and this project should have never been stopped," Gonsalves said.
The organization is planning to sell the Knob Hill lot, and even take a loss if it has to.
"We're going to build a home for this family and although it wont be here in Knob Hill, I still expect there will probably be many residents who live here who are going to still come out and help us," Gonsalves said.
There were no board members at the press conference Tuesday morning, either for or against the home. Homes for Our Troops says moving forward, they will be recommending that Knob Hill and other neighborhoods update their covenants if they want specific requirements.
News 12 will keep you updated on the latest.
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