Eatonville Town Council votes against zoning change for developer

The Eatonville Town Council on Tuesday voted against changing the zoning for new development on the former site of the Robert Hungerford Preparatory School, the first school for Black Children in Central Florida.

Around 100 people showed up for the zoning meeting to discuss the future of approximately 100 acres of land located along Kennedy Blvd. and Wymore Rd. Many of the speakers were very passionate about living in Eatonville and want to keep their town's history preserved for generations to come.

People who live in Eatonville, one of the first self-governing all-black municipalities in the nation, were very concerned about development affecting their culture and losing land to homes in which they said they couldn't afford to live. 

"It’s time to come together for a win," said Mayor Angie Gardner. "That means we come together with ideas to finance the property. We come together if that opportunity arises. It’s not over, if the developer should walk away we have another opportunity."

Eatonville resident Rinc Burgmon said he is glad the council voted against the zoning change and looks forward to planned development. "To work together to get what we need and want, to get our community – one of the 15 black communities surviving into the centuries – to follow."

Mayor Gardner said Hungerford Park Development was going to buy the land from the Orange County School District, for $14.2 million and Eatonville would have received around $4 million from the purchase.

The developers can still build on the site if the school district signs off on the contract on March 31. However, the mayor said it will be scaled back to around 300 homes. The developer can also decide not to go forward.