Arlington County Board Chairman Stephen H. Detwiler, taking issue with his Democratic opponent in the Nov. 2 elections, said yesterday that he opposes creation of a county housing and redevelopment authority.

Detwiler, a Republican-backed independent who is seeking a second term, said the drawbacks of an independent authority outweigh its merits and that Arlington has better ways to preserve and increase low and moderate cost housing. County voters will be asked to approve such an authority at the same time they choose between Detwiler and Democrat Mary Margaret Whipple, who supports the authority, for the county board.

"The legislative purpose for the existence of housing authorities is clearly for the acquisition, ownership and management of public housing units . . . ," Detwiler said in a two-page statement. Furthermore, he said, Virginia law would create the authority as "a separate, autonomous government entity not accountable to the citizens that cannot be disbanded if it gets out of hand."

Whipple, a former school board member, said yesterday that she has not tried to make the authority a campaign issue, but that Detwiler's delay in taking a stand showed a "lack of leadership."

"No one is advocating public housing in Arlington," Whipple said. Detwiler's remarks, she said, show "a lack of confidence in the county board's ability to control the authority."

The authority proposal, which will be the only referendum on the county ballot, is opposed by the Arlington Taxpayers Alliance, the Arlington Republican Committee and the county's tenant-landlord commission. Its supporters include the Arlington Civic Federation, the County Board's housing advisory committee and the county Democratic Committee. Voters rejected a similar proposal in the 1950s.