Two more Northern Virginia annexations -- for Leesburg and Manassas--will be settled amicably this year now that the General Assembly last week passed legislation to help towns, cities and counties adjust their boundaries without long and expensive court battles.

Leesburg is expected to acquire more than seven square miles of Loudoun County territory, tripling its size. In exchange, it has promised to remain a Loudoun County town for at least 25 more years and not incorporate as a city, a move that would deprive the county of the town's tax base. The agreement still has to receive the blessing of the special state annexation commission and court, set up several years ago to settle annexation cases outside the regular state court system.

Manassas, already a small independent city, will acquire an additional two square miles of surrounding Prince William County land. In exchange the city will give the county $1 million, a sliver of land owned by IBM and a share in the ownership of Manassas Airport. In addition, the city has agreed to sell water to the county from the city's Lake Manassas.

In its annexation, Leesburg also will acquire Leesburg Airport, as well as 1,300 w residents and developable land that ultimately will more than double the town's present 9,000 population and make it larger than many existing small cities in the state.

The Manassas annexation is considered a minor boundary change and thus--thanks to the new state legislation--exempt from even the state annexation commission and court proceedings, according to county attorney John Foote. "All we need now is a final court order adjusting the boundary."

For Leesburg, the new state legislation means the town-county agreement will be on a firmer legal footing, according to deputy town manager Jeffrey Minor. The state annexation commission is expected to rule on the Leesburg case this month, Minor said.

Last month, Fredericksburg won approval of the annexation commission and court to acquire 4.6 square miles of neighboring Spotsylvania County. That, too, was a friendly settlement.