College Park has taken another step toward completing the long-planned Lakeland Urban Renewal project, with the decision to buy a piece of property from the University of Maryland.

The City Council last week voted to buy the 75,000-square-foot tract, which is partly wooded and will "remain in its natural state," according to city Urban Renewal Director John Callahan. The property will serve as a buffer between the planned apartments and town houses and traffic on nearby Rte. 1.

The city has assessed the property at $250,000, but now must negotiate a price with the university, Callahan said.

The university's Board of Regents must approve the sale before state officials make the final decision, he added.

The Lakeland project has been under way since 1973. Town houses and apartments, including some for senior citizens and low-income persons, are being built on the site.

In a related matter, the council canceled its contract with Edwin Finder, a consultant on urban renewal. Finder has moved to New Jersey and the council wants to hire a local consultant, thus saving the cost of Finder's travel expenses, a city spokesman said. The spokesman said the decision had nothing to do with the quality of Finder's work.

In other action, the council rescinded a special-exception permit awarded to the Thornton Oil Co. to build a gas station at Rte. 1 and Cherokee Street. The action was taken after Ward 5 residents complained that the station would further impede access to their neighborhood, according to a city spokesman. The corner is busy and has no traffic light, the spokesman said.

The permit had been granted by the previous City Council, he added. The new council, which took office in December, voted 5 to 4 to rescind the permit. Several council members believed the city "had made a commitment and should live up to it," the spokesman said.