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Soldier's family, neighbors react to Knob Hill controversy

Gittens family

It's been a rough few years for the Gittens family. In 2007, while on his third deployment in Iraq, Sergeant First Class Sean Gittens suffered brain damage during a series of I.E.D. explosions. (WRDW-TV / June 23, 2011)

News 12 First at Five / Thursday June 23, 2011

EVANS, Ga. -- It's a story News 12 brought you first Wednesday night, and one that is now getting national attention.

The Homes for Our Troops organization has built specialty homes for more than 100 soldiers coming back from war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Last December, Homes for our Troops bought the land to build a house for Sergeant First Class Sean Gittens.

Workers, and a lot of volunteers, were planning to start building the home Friday in the Knob Hill community, in Evans. But before that could happen, the Knob Hill homeowners association has changed their minds, and is not approving plans for the home.

Members say the single, story brick home would be too small. They want it to be bigger and apparently they have the final say.

It's news that has come as a shock to just about everyone involved in the project. Some of the most shocked, are probably Sergeant First Class Sean Gittens and his family.

It's been a rough few years for the Gittens family. In 2007, while on his third deployment in Iraq, Sergeant First Class Sean Gittens suffered brain damage during a series of I.E.D. explosions, then a stroke left the soldier paralyzed and unable to speak.

"He's confined in this house that we are living in now," said Sharon Gittens, Sean's wife.

Sharon was looking forward to moving her husband into a custom-built home designed by Homes for Our Troops. The land was ready for construction to begin Friday.

"I wanted to see him be able to get around in his house. I want to see him have more access. He served his country 21 years, honors and dignity. He deserves it," Sharon said.

But now, plans for the home are on pause after the Knob Hill home owners association blocks the building.

"I was shocked. We are all so hurt and disappointed," Sharon said.

The homeowners association says the 2,700 square foot home does not match others in the estates section of the neighborhood. They want the home to be 3,400 square feet.

"It is sad. You have people out there risking their lives and there are people that just don't care," Sharon said.

Some Knob Hill neighbors are torn on the issue.

"Tell me what your reaction was when you heard this news?" I asked.

"Disgusted, really disgusted. It feels, disrespectful to a man who's risked his life for us to live like we do, in safety and I think if anything we, the homeowners should be out here building this house for them," answered Kandace Zumbro, a Knob Hill resident for the last six years.

But not all agree.

"So you support the board's decision?" I asked.

"I do support the board's decision because I pay my money, and I want the value of my home to stay. If they meet the criteria to build the build the home, I'm fine with it but, I just want my value of my home to stay the same," said homeowner Troy Williamson.

Now the Gittens family doesn't feel wanted in their own neighborhood.

"I do want to live somewhere where I feel welcome and if Knob Hill is not going to welcome us, maybe we don't need to live in this community," Sharon said.

News 12 was at the site Thursday, and crews were already there getting rid of all preparations they've brought in during the last few weeks.

The good news here is, Homes for Our Troops President John Gonsalves told News 12 no matter what, the Gittens family will still get the home they've been wanting. It just may not be in Knob Hill, where the family lives right now.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Nicole Location: Chesapeake,Va on May 28, 2012 at 02:35 PM
    This is awful,my hubby and I were strongly considering Knob Hill to relocate, even though there are two sides to every story, the stigma alone has changed our decision immediately. We do not wish to be any part of what happened even though we are relocating. I fear my children will be ridiculed about living in "Snob Hill" as some call it and I firmly believe a good name is better than riches. How discouraging to me and my family....
  • by Dave Location: Grovetown on Jun 30, 2011 at 04:24 PM
    What a low blow, telling a disabled man he has to live in a two story house.
  • by Bob Location: Dunedin, FL on Jun 28, 2011 at 01:24 PM
    These bigoted lowlife scum have already lowered their property values with the collective attitude that a wounded 21-year veteran of the military is not entitled to any consideration. I personally wouldn't live in a nest of creeps like this at any price. May your Christian God reward you appropriately.
  • by Lindsey Location: Evans on Jun 27, 2011 at 12:40 PM
    In all honesty, those of you who left nasty comments..maybe you should know the whole story before you say anything. The plans were not turned down because was in the Army in fact it has NOTHING at all to do with that. HE ALRAEDY LIVES IN KNOB HILL! So the ones of you who wish bad things upon Knob Hill, you are only wishing bad things for him as well. He and his family rent a house one street up from the lot. You would think those of you would complain about the fact that is was your $83,000 that they paid for the lot itself. Maybe that's a fun fact that nobody knows about. So just something to keep in mind, one, he ALREADY lives in the neighborhood, and two, it cost $83,000 JUST to buy the lot.
  • by Nick Location: Texas on Jun 25, 2011 at 12:59 PM
    I have no interest in living in an HOA controlled neighborhood. I'm a Viet Nam era veteran with no service related disabilities.. Sgt. Gittens put his life on the line for freedom.. How dare those snobs treat him that way. Lower property values my (expletive deleted)!! If it weren't for the Sgt Gittens of this great country, Those HOA snobs could very well be among the Holocost suvivors. I agree with his wife in that I don't want to live in a neighborhood where I'm not welcome.. If I were SFC Gittens, I'd tell all parties concerned, "Thanks, but no thanks...
  • by Proud Vet on Jun 25, 2011 at 12:53 PM
    Knob Hill, you have done the damage. There are other places that would except this AMERICAN Hero with open arms. I hope HOA for KNOB HILL can sleep at night, knowing freedom was fought for them by Hero's like SFC Gittens.
  • by KK4AMP Location: FIgure it out on Jun 25, 2011 at 07:25 AM
    So, the BOD of this place insists on a multi-story home for a veteran that is an amputee? Good luck with your ADA law suit. With BOD rulings like this, it's obvious who the knobs in Knob Hill are.
  • by SHERI Location: FORT GORDON on Jun 24, 2011 at 05:13 PM
    KNOB HILL, why don't you pay for the extra cost of square footage, bricks, and shutters that are needed to meet your HOA rules. This is not meant to be scarastic I thought this would be a thoughtful gesture from the neighborhood.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jul 2, 2011 at 07:04 AM in reply to SHERI
      Why dont you? Open up your checkbook. Empty all the equity in your house. Take out a second mortgage. It would be the noble thing to do!
  • by Teri. K Location: Port St Lucie, FL on Jun 24, 2011 at 05:05 PM
    Dis'gusta.....totally unacceptable..especially the African American gentleman with his off colored comment on property value.
  • by Mark Location: Smith on Jun 24, 2011 at 04:56 PM
    Why was the Mr.Williamson looking at the ground all while repeating what he heard someone else say? (During the interview w/the news anchor)
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