John T. (Til) Hazel, attorney for the Tysons II developers, again has emerged as the premier developer in Northern Virginia, as he persuaded Fairfax County politicians to approve the massive and controversial commercial project.

Friends say Hazel -- an active booster of Fairfax and of George Mason University -- is charming, brilliant and generous. Detractors say he is manipulative and has become rich from his deals.

With his crew-cut hair and down-home style of speaking, the Harvard-educated Hazel may appear an unlikely power broker. He talks as proudly of his prize corn as he does of his current civic post as president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

But as a zoning lawyer, landowner and former supporter of Virginia's Byrd organization, Hazel, 53, has been involved in most major development projects in Fairfax County in recent years.

Those projects include the Springfield Bypass, the Rte. 50-Interstate 66 development near Fair Oaks Mall, Burke Center and the Occoquan basin.

Some call him the king of Washington shopping malls. Theodore N. Lerner, 58, is the multimillion-dollar developer who has spawned shopping centers across the local landscape -- from the original Tysons Corner to White Flint Mall, Wheaton Plaza and Landover Mall. He also owns office buildings and undeveloped land.

Lerner, a soft-spoken and unassuming man, has shunned the limelight and politics. But associates say that in the board room, he is a driven and tough negotiator.

He won the fight over Tysons II and eventually bought out his partners for $21 million, but not until after an extremely bitter fight.

Lerner says he bought the Tysons II land on instinct and says his instinct has guided many of his real estate decisions through the years.

"I trust my instincts," he said in an interview a few years ago. "We've had more winners than losers."

Republican Supervisor Nancy K. Falck, 55, of McLean has waged many battles over development and traffic congestion in the Dranesville District, especially in the Tysons Corner area.

Falck is a feisty warrior, and Tysons traffic has been one of her biggest headaches.

She has battled community activists opposed to more development in the area, and further angered them by taking off for a vacation in Greece last month instead of working with them.

Falck, who supports Tysons II and believes traffic problems are being adequately addressed, said that the $550 million development will not hurt the community.

"I don't think you're going to see a major difference," said Falck, noting that there are already high-rises in the area.