The Alexandria City Council yesterday voted to postpone a decision on whether to revoke permits that allow a scrap yard to operate near the Capital Beltway. But members of the council indicated, in the words of Councilman Donald E. Casey, that the body was "not out to shut down a man's business."

The postponement was granted to give officials of Alexandria Scrap Corp. and Tavern Square Corp., the owners of a nearby high-rise office building who view the junkyard as an eyesore, a chance to reach a compromise over the yard with city officials.

The basic and underlying complaint about the family-owned scrap yard is that it occupies 8 1/2 acres of prime land in the city's Cameron Valley, between Duke Street and the beltway. The yard is near a future Metro station and, as Mayor Charles E. Beatley sees it, "is not compatible to the future usage" of the area.

City officials, citing what they say are violations of the yard's city permits, have asked the council to revoke those permits. Owners of the yard, which has been in Alexandria for 50 years, have mounted a public relations campaign to save it, contending the facility is vital to energy and resource conservation efforts.

In proposing the delay yesterday, Councilman Nelson Greene Sr. said that the city "was forgetting the people who really need the jobs" at the scrap yard.

Green's sentiment was met with murmurs of approval from the 50 scrap yard employes, the entire work force of the yard, who were in attendance for yesterday's public hearing.

Earlier in the hearing, several of the workers, dressed in dirty green work clothes, came humbly to the microphones in the grand, high-ceilinged chambers to impress upon the council that if Alexandria Scrap went, so would their jobs.

"In the 23 years I've worked there," said Dallas Springs, "they have learnt me skills, many skills . . . I've bought a home -- every man dreams of a home -- and if I lose my job, I'll lose my home."