Gaithersburg's mayor and City Council last week adopted the first part of a master zoning plan, accepting guidelines that lay out residential and commercial areas, with buffers between them, in the northeast corner of the city.

The council accepted plans that largely follow the way businesses and homes have become grouped in recent years east of state Rte. 355 and north of Deerpark Road, said Donald Stickle, a city planner.

To protect these established areas, the city included in the new zoning map strips of property that will scale down commercial operations as they near residential neighborhoods, he said.

There was no public opposition as the council accepted the new map, Stickle said, but such opposition is expected this fall when the city begins to follow the plan and make the zoning changes it calls for.

Stickle said it took three years to remap the first area and probably will take several years to completely rezone the city. Five areas still must be remapped, and each will be considered at separate hearings so that the zoning changes can be made plot-by-plot.

In other action, the council raised the tax on coin-operated amusement machines -- the video tax -- to 10 percent, the legal limit. The tax rate had been 4.5 percent for nine years. The new rate, effective immediately, covers the gross receipts of every entertainment machine in the city.

The council reappointed Carroll Kearns and T. Irving Fulks to the Gaithersburg-Washington Grove Fire Department Commission. Pfc. Donald A. Pike of the Gaithersburg City Police Department was named policeman of the year.