Free Markets, Free People

Just not good enough for their neighborhood (update–progress)

John Gonsalves, who runs one of the most awesome charities I know of, Homes for Our Troops, has a problem.  And its one that will make your blood boil.

Gonsalves and his folks build specially built homes for disabled war veterans who have special needs.  Such as SFC Sean Gittens.

Army SFC Sean Gittens was left paralyzed and unable to speak or communicate as a result of a battle related traumatic brain injury. Deployed for the third time in his career, SFC Gittens suffered multiple concussive traumas throughout his year-long deployment to Iraq from April 2007-April 2008. Upon returning home, suffering from headaches and other head-injury related symptoms, SFC Gittens suffered an aneurism in his brain and a subsequent stroke which left him with paralyzed and non-communicative. Treated at multiple hospitals, both military and civilian, SFC Gittens now receives care from trained medical personnel in his home.

Homes for Our Troops identified a place for the home they wanted to build SFC Gittens and his family and went to work getting buying the property and getting the necessary approvals.

Building on the 2700 square foot home was to begin this Friday. Homes for Our Troops purchased the land in December and preparations for building the home have been ongoing over the past month. These homes are a reflection of the gratitude of the community and are given mortgage free to the veterans once complete.

Homes for Our Troops received building permits for the project and has been working closely with the Knob Hill Board of Directors, making multiple changes to the plans for the home as requested. The written approval came from Knob Hill BOD President Rick Trump on June 2nd.

Everything is cool, no?


Late last week, a lawyer for the HOA served the contractors on site with a cease and desist letter to stop the preparation of the build site. Facing strong opposition from the Property Owners Association, the Knob Hill Board of Directors and the Property Owners Association met again on June 20th, just four days before the planned kickoff of the home build. Homes for Our Troops was then notified that the house plans do not meet the Knob Hill standards and the original approval was thus rescinded. Homes for Our Troops has now been told that it must begin anew the entire approval process and that the house needs to be at least 3400 square feet and multi-level to even be considered.

"Shockingly, it appears that the Knob Hill community has decided it does not want to welcome SFC Gittens and his family, as we were previously told," said Homes for Our Troops Founder John Gonsalves. "Despite our working closely with the Knob Hill Property Owners Association over the past four months, we find ourselves in an untenable situation. We cannot afford to add 700 square feet to the house, particularly under our special adaptive plans. And our experience in building over 100 homes dictates that severely injured veterans need a specially adapted single level home. Frankly, this late action begun by the Knob Hill Property Owners means we must suspend working on the home. The Knob Hill Property Owners Association has now assured that SFC Gittens and his family will not be able to have the home they so desperately need. We have done everything in our power to try to resolve this situation, but it appears that the community is not willing to accept this home, and SFC Gittens and his family into the community."

According to Gonsalves, the Knob Hill neighborhood covenants state that the minimum size for a house in the subdivision is 2,700 sq ft (see Fox News clip).  He also points out that there are many 2,700 square foot homes in that subdivision.  And, as you might imagine, given that’s the minimum size the covenants allow, that is the size of the proposed Gittens home.   In other words, the Knob Hill Property Owners Association (Evans, GA) are not following their own covenants.  Gonsalves was told the home was “too small” and “didn’t fit in” to the surrounding neighborhood (with some homes as large as 5,000 sq. ft).

I’m sympathetic to property owners rights 99% of the time.  But this is that 1% where I’m totally against them.  And that’s because they’re attempting to void their own covenants and not abide by them. Remember, these are their PUBLISHED covenants.  These are the minimum standards they AGREED too when they built their homes in that subdivision.  It is the document they’d certainly use to legally enforce the standards therein if it was necessary.  But now they simply want to ignore the document and impose arbitrary new standards that simply don’t exist other than in their demands.

I think the Knob Hill Property Owners Association needs to rethink this entire thing, don’t you?  If you’d like to share your opinion concerning their denial of a disabled vet’s opportunity to live in a home that meets all the standards of their covenants you may want to drop them a line.

Please be polite and respectful, but feel free to make your feelings clear about their actions.  Also remember that, per Homes for Our Troops, not all the people living in that subdivision agree with the board’s decision.  The email address for the board is -

This is not how America should treat its disabled vets.

UPDATE: Just in (1:20 pm).

The president of the Knob Hill Property Owner’s Association says plans are moving forward for the construction of a home for Sgt. First Class Sean Gittens.

The homeowners association and Homes For Our Troops have been talking. A list of items Knob Hill requires is being provided to Homes For Our Troops.

Both organizations said they hope to make a joint announcement on Monday, June 27, in regards to moving forward with the plans.

Keep the pressure on, but please, be polite and respectful.

[HT: upinak]



Twitter: McQandO

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

16 Responses to Just not good enough for their neighborhood (update–progress)

  • What the hell, this is happening in Georgia?
    It would be a little easier to understand in San Fran or Seattle, but Georgia.

  • I sent my “polite” little note !

  • HOA Nazis know no political persuasion. It’s the ultimate power trip that features lots of petty tyrants.

  • As your Board of Directors, we want to advise you of an ongoing situation involving the Homes For Our Troops organization.
    A veteran and his family, currently living in Knob Hill, are waiting for a home to be constructed on Knob Hill Circle. We have been discussing proposed plans with HFOT, but we still have not received plans consistent with your neighborhood covenants. HFOT has issued a press release that has led to negative comments about our neighborhood. We want to ensure you that we are considering both your interests and the interests of the veteran as we continue negotiations with HFOT.
    Please understand that any suggestion that this Board of Directors does not welcome this deserving family into our neighborhood could not be further than the truth. Many of the board members are veterans themselves and many neighbors have expressed interest in this project. This is simply ensuring this deserving family receives the home consistent with the neighborhood covenants (and that they very much deserve)
    We regret the negative comments and will continue to update you as appropriate.

    Knob Hill Board of Directors

    From their web-site. 

    • And a look at the by laws says ‘they recommend’ houses be 2700 sq ft of living space exclusive of porches, etc.
      The other sections are full of ‘shall be’ and ‘must be’ phrases.
      I ain’t a lawyer, but there’s a big difference between a recommendation and a requirement.  If it “MUST BE” or “SHALL BE” a minimum of 2700 square feet of living space exclusive of porches, etc, than it would SAY ‘MUST BE’ or ‘SHALL BE’, not ‘we recommend’.

    • And if I’m reading the real-estate listings right, there’s a listing for a 2700 sq ft 2 story for sale currently in that very sub division.

  • Hey Bruce,  You may want to update. I think the HOA got bad news and are updating their “status”.

  • Name and shame.  The “Board of Directors” didn’t try to do this, nor the “Homeowner’s Association”.  Individual members of those two organizations voted that way.  If they are confident that they were right to vote that way, they should have no problem saying “here’s why we did this”.  If they were just being HOA jerks, then they have no right to expect any reprieve from scorn and derision.

  • I emailed the weasels. I was polite, but made sure to use words like “shameful” and phrases like “do the honorable thing” and “actions such as this are why HOA’s have come be seen in such a negative light!”
    Ill post any reply (though I doubt I’ll get one)

  • This is why I will never live in a place served by a HOA. They are full of Napoleons with their own little islands of control.
    I also do not believe this honorable soldier deserves to be subject to such a group of control freaks either. Why not build him a home somewhere else?

  • I followed some of the links provided here. After seeing pictures of the community swim team and the Gittens family I suspect the local HOA decided, like their forefathers before them, that the Gittens family would feel more comfortable in a more, uh, ‘urban’ community.

  • John It would be a little easier to understand in San Fran or Seattle, but Georgia.

    Ditto.  WTF???

    timactualAfter seeing pictures of the community swim team and the Gittens family I suspect the local HOA decided, like their forefathers before them, that the Gittens family would feel more comfortable in a more, uh, ‘urban’ community.

    Jebus… I hope you are leaping to an incorrect conclusion.  Otherwise, looker‘s right: I thought I was pissed off before…

  • I’m gonna have to send an email to share my displeasure. And I really really hope timactual is incorrect but the cynical side of me is saying otherwise. Eesh.

  • It’s this kind of nonsense (among other things) that convinced me to join the board for my own HOA.  Any asinine stupidity as this will never pass with my vote and I will everything I can to stop it in its tracks when I see it.  Let some a-hole try and discourage wounded vets from living in our neighborhood or fly the US flag and they’ll unleash one helluva of a shiite-storm.  I can see the need for HOAs in some communities, like mine, but those who use it to indulge in a power trip disgust me.  I prefer to regulate only as much as necessary and leave my neighbors alone just like I expect from them.