Monday, June, 27, 2011
TAUNTON, Ma. -- Homes for Our Troops Founder and President John Gonsalves issued a statement on the decision to stop their efforts to build a home in Knob Hill:
Today I am announcing that Homes for Our Troops will not be building a home in the Knob Hill subdivision of Evans, Ga., for SFC Sean Gittens.
Sharon Gittens, Sean’s wife, has informed us that she would rather have us build a home in another location. She said she knows most people are supportive of their home but does not feel comfortable if there are some in the neighborhood against it.
I know the past two weeks have been very trying for the Gittens family. When the Knob Hill Property Owners Association Board of Directors rescinded approval of the home we were trying to build, I told Mrs. Gittens that we were committed to building a home for the Gittens family and asked her to take some time and decide whether she wanted us to pursue the original site or find another location.
After speaking with family members, she informed me that she would rather find a place where she felt more welcome.
We will do our best to find a place to build a home that will work for the Gittens family. We know she liked the schools and sense of security offered by Knob Hill, and we will attempt to stay within the school district if possible. Ultimately, we are confident that the Gittens family will live in a beautiful home that will greatly improve their quality of life.
The unfortunate situation in Knob Hill is regrettable on many levels. In the end, at least some of the Board of Directors of the Property Owners Association seemed to want to find a way to work with us to get the Gittens home built, and if Mrs. Gittens wanted, I believe we could have found a solution.
The fact that she no longer felt welcome in the community speaks volumes about the way this matter was handled.
We went from approval on June 2, in which the only outstanding issue was materials and colors, to a cease and desist order, to rescission of approval on June 20, even though we had submitted all the information requested and told the Property Owners Association we would make any modifications they wanted with regard to exterior finishes.
For reasons we still do not understand, we were told the home had to be larger, and we needed to start all over. At that point, with the build brigade, which involves hundreds of volunteers and dozens of contractors scheduled to start on June 24, we had to make a public announcement that the project was cancelled.
We move on, sadder and wiser. Homes for Our Troops has built a 100 homes for severely disabled veterans in over 30 states around the nation.
This is the first time we have ever encountered someone who does not want us to build a home because he believes the home will hurt the value of his property. When we find a new site and begin construction on the new home for the Gittens family, I hope people from the entire Evans community will find time to lend a hand.
When it is finished, and the family moves in, you will be able to take justifiable pride in the contribution you have made.
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