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.
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.
Board of Directors
Knob Hill Neighborhood, Evans, GA