Gaithersburg's mayor and City Council last week decided that the exterior design for the planned renovation of City Hall was so out of character that it should be changed--even at a cost of $10,400.

The city had hired Paul Clarke Associates of Annapolis to come up with a design for enlarging and renovating the current City Hall, a converted Victorian farmhouse at 31 S. Summit Ave. But when the plans were reviewed, officials decided the exterior design would look, as one official said, "too modernistic."

The council was not satisfied with the design for a flat roof and revisions that would take away the building's front porch. So last week, according to Assistant City Administrator Richard Reed, the council agreed to pay the architect up to $10,400 to produce a design that will keep the sloping roof, retain the front porch and make the side walls match the Victorian front.

In another, complicated case involving contracts and facades, the city last week issued for the third time a contract to renovate four downtown storefronts.

In March, the contract originally was given to Bradley Construction Co., but the council decided to cancel its award after discovering it had stated incorrect wage rates when advertising the job. Last month, the council selected Brophy Builders of Rockville, but the company was unable to secure a bond for the amount of the contract within the 20-day limit set by law.

Last week, the council picked the next-lowest bidder, Heritage Builders, a Gaithersburg firm, to do the job for $38,676--more than $8,000 higher than Brophy's bid, according to Linda Michaels, a planning department assistant.

The council also decided to buy a new GMC dump truck for the public works department from Knott and Geisbert, an Urbana dealer, for $35,971.