Katie Beasley">

Knob Hill controversy could come to an end

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, June 24, 2011

EVANS, Ga. -- It's a story that's getting national attention and inciting a range of emotions. The Homes for Our Troops organization is trying to build a home for a wounded warrior but has hit a construction roadblock with the Knob Hill Property Owners Association.

Construction on Sergeant First Class Sean Gittens home was supposed to start at 8:30 a.m. Friday. Now the lot where the home was supposed to be built has still nothing more than dirt and grass. But that could soon change.

Leaders of the homeowners association say they are waiting for some documents before they sign-off on plans for the home. This, after they told News 12 Thursday the home was too small, and that's why it wasn't approved.

Homes for Our Troops is planning to build a house for this family no matter what. Whether it's in the Knob Hill neighborhood is still up in the air.

There were no bulldozers or hammers, all you could hear were the sounds of chirping birds. However, progress is in the air as the Knob Hill homeowners association begins singing a different tune.

Rick Trump serves as the President of the HOA.

"We look forward to having this resolved early next week at the very latest," Trump said.

Homes for Our Troops is getting some paperwork that the group has been waiting for which has necessary details, including landscaping and other architectural details," Trump said.

Construction on the home for disabled Veteran Sgt. First Class Sean Gittens and his family was set to start Friday. Volunteers that came ready to build were turned away from the site. Neighborhood representatives blocked construction saying plans have not been approved.

Knob Hill says once they get what they need, they are willing to move forward with the home.

"The board of directors, members of this neighborhood are going to roll up our sleeves and we're going to get to work in here with the volunteers when that time comes," Trump said.

Both Sgt. Gitten's family and Homes for our Troops aren't as enthusiastic.

"Are you optimistic at this point that the project will move forward in Knob Hill?" asked reporter Katie Beasley.

"Um .... not yet," answered Homes for Our Troops President John Gonsalves.

Sgt. Gittens wife, Sharon, is also having mixed emotions. She's not sure she feels at home in the neighborhood anymore.

"My family is what's important, my husband is what's important, and I want to make sure we're living somewhere that's going to welcome us," Sharon Gittens said.

Homes for Our Troops President John Gonsalves is standing by her.

"She's just unsure right now. I don't want her to feel like she's under any pressure to make the decision before she's ready," he said. "We build these homes for life. These are not starter homes. I just want to make sure shes 100 percent sure and certain with any decision that she makes."

Homes for Our Troops is working on a landscaping plan at the request of the association, but does not have guidelines to draw from. So the organization is worried they're going to be arguing over changes once again.

At first, it appeared at least one concern was over square footage and property values. Trump said it was never about the size of the house. That is not what the association's attorney told News 12 Thursday. Apparently now, it is just about getting these last pending documents.

Rick Trump, president of the Knob Hill Property Owners Association, released the following statement Saturday afternoon:

The Board of Directors of Knob Hill wishes to announce that plans for the home being constructed for SFC Sean Gittens and his family are moving forward. The board has been in communication with Homes For Our Troops, providing details of documents and plans we had not received previously. At this point they have expressed they are willing to adapt their house plans to meet the required architectural specifications for Knob Hill Subdivision and if the plans are approved they may move forward with SFC Gittens’ home.

This matter has never been about SFC Gittens or Homes For Our Troops, it was about maintaining a consistent message and process for new construction in Knob Hill. Knob Hill covenants require anyone proposing a construction project, new construction, remodel or addition, to submit detailed plans which include a drawing, irrigation plans, a complete materials list and landscaping details. While some of these items have been received, there was no landscaping plan and the two-page drawing received had conflicting images of the home. Details concerning these items have again been requested of Homes For Our Troops and we anticipate receiving these in the next 24-48 hours. Once all documents have been received we will be able to move forward to a conclusion satisfactory to all parties concerned.

For clarification, the Board of Directors is not now and has never asked Homes for Troops to build a 3400 square foot home. Previously, our board requested an additional room be added upstairs in an effort to have this home be of comparable size to other homes in the Estate section. Howevrer, this was prior to learning the extent of SFC Gittens’ injuries and requirements that the entire house be accessible to SFC Gittens.

We appreciate the patience of everyone involved in this process. We look forward to having Homes For Our Troops build a home in Knob Hill for SFC Sean Gittens and his family. We are already honored to have such a heroic and dedicated veteran living in our neighborhood. Numerous other veterans living in Knob Hill and serving on our Board of Directors are happy to include the Gittens family as part of our community.

Thank you!

Board of Directors
Knob Hill Neighborhood, Evans, GA

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by MK Miller Location: Long Beach on Jul 3, 2011 at 03:15 PM
    TO LINDSEY, Your excuses are just a smokescreen for your true intentions of not allowing the Gittens family to become homeowners in Knob Hill. Your attorney and Mr. Trump cannot even keep their differing versions of the roadblocks the Knob Hill HOA has created. The bigotry and cruelty of Knob Hill towards this wounded warrior and his family is as transparent as could possibly be. Every resident of Knob Hill who has not spoken up in favor of the Gittens family being allowed to build and own a home is disgraceful and hypocritical. Finally, I bet the vast majority of you have a "Support our Troops" decal somewhere and you will hypocritically wave a US Flag on July 4th. Disgusting.
  • by Roger Location: Las Vegas on Jun 28, 2011 at 03:12 PM
    Typical, This poor man can risk his life and all the Knob Hill Snobs are concerned about is there property values. You would really have concerns if some other country came in an blew up your Knob Hill estates. Where would you be without guys like Mr. Gittens. You ungrateful snobs.
  • by b coleman Location: tACOMA, wa on Jun 28, 2011 at 12:08 PM
    trump you are a piece oF $%^# and same on you and your HOA. YOU LIAR
  • by Jim Hogan Location: Portland, OR on Jun 28, 2011 at 11:39 AM
    These people should be ashamed. Let them all go spend a real tour in a real combat zone. The action is indefensable. Bigots always seem to come up with a smelly bag of lame excused.
  • by Lindsey Location: Evans on Jun 27, 2011 at 12:30 PM
    The people that have commented so far are the ones who should be ashamed for pointing their fingers. It has nothing to do withthe fact that he is a warrior. He ALREADY (CURRENTLY) lives in the neighborhood. Second off, the plans did not meet the requirements for the building codes of Knob Hill. Again nothing to do with the fact that he was a warrior. Maybe instead of spending $83,000 on the lot, Wounded Warrior should have checked on the building codes. And in case anyone else was interested Columbia County has NOT approved the building of this house. So even if they were in the codes for Knob Hill, they still have to go through Columbia County.
  • by Max Location: Out West... on Jun 27, 2011 at 12:15 PM
    Landscaping plans could be submitted while construction is underway. It's one of the last items to be installed on a property. Irrigation would also be done after construction and utilities are in place. Both items could be submitted while the site is being prepped. Sorry HOA, it's not like you haven't seen this coming for months...you've given yourselves a well deserved black eye.
  • by Anonymous on Jun 27, 2011 at 12:01 PM
    The problem here is that these bigots approved the home already once! Notice their web sites and the color of all the residents and their children. tis is plain old southern racism posing as an nazi HOA.
  • by Karen Location: Evans GA on Jun 25, 2011 at 05:01 PM
    I am ashamed to live in Evans right now! Those people should feel awful!
  • by Sheila Location: Knob Hill on Jun 25, 2011 at 09:45 AM
    " singing a different tune"....fuel the fire News12!!! He's singing the same tune he's always sang! Submit the same paperwork every single one of us living in this neighborhood had to submit! Each and ever veteran in this community had to submit paperwork for approval from the HOA to build in this neighborhood. The same veterans, might I add, fighting the very same war Mr Gittens fought. The same veterans that have given all of these hateful people on your website the ability to wish death on us and call us snobs. Theres no prejudice here! Your twist on this matter is, quite frankly, DISGUSTING!
  • by Jennifer Location: Durham, NC on Jun 24, 2011 at 07:14 PM
    The POA & HOA should be ashamed of themselves for their treatment of a wounded warrior. Wonder if any of those people who denied the family of SFC Gittens the variances has ever even served in the military. Their behavior is disgraceful!
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