February 3, 2017

After more than a year of fighting to protect their home of 37 years from eminent domain abuse, Karen and Bruce Tuscher have shown you can fight City Hall.

Karen and Bruce first learned that their property was under attack through a letter inviting them to a special Planning Board meeting in May 2015. At the meeting, they were presented with the town’s urban renewal plan, which proposed drastic changes to their quiet, rural neighborhood. This included seizing the Tuschers’ and their neighbors’ properties to hand over to a developer, who already owned 127 acres in the area. In a confidential letter to the Board of Selectmen obtained through a public records request, the developer asked the town to create a so-called urban renewal area in order to accommodate a larger development. It was clear this plan was about the city doing a land-hungry developer’s bidding.

The Tuschers were heartbroken when they were told that the home they raised their family in could be bulldozed to make way for a million-plus-square-foot distribution center and other private development.

With their home listed as “to be acquired,” the Tuschers teamed up with IJ’s activism team to take on the town. IJ worked closely with well-known columnist Jeff Jacoby of The Boston Globe to expose the behind-the-scenes landgrab. On the night of the Redevelopment Authority’s November 2016 meeting, IJ hosted and moderated an educational panel featuring Karen, Bruce and two local activists. Over dinner, 60 neighbors learned what the plan meant for their community and read Jacoby’s hard-hitting column, which had come out the day before.

Following the dinner, community members joined together and rallied outside town hall in support of Karen and Bruce’s fight to keep their home. Holding signs that read “No Carver Urban Renewal,” the crowd filled the meeting room and overflowed into the hallway. During the public comment period, residents presented moving testimonies. Even the developer stated that the Tuschers could be left alone, although he might want a “foot” of their property. That week, the Redevelopment Authority moved the Tuschers’ property to a “partial acquisition” listing.

But local activists would not back down. To fully protect the Tuschers’ property rights, their entire property needed to be removed from the acquisition list. A partial acquisition designation was no guarantee that they would keep all the property they worked so hard to own.

In December, the Redevelopment Authority finally yielded to the pressure from the public and IJ and removed the Tuschers’ property from the plan completely. Carver’s Planning Board and Board of Selectmen approved the plan with final approval pending by the Department of Housing and Community Development. IJ will be there to fight until the Tuschers can rest easy knowing that their next holiday will be spent exactly where it should be—in their home.

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