The Rockville City Council, acting in the wake of Mayor John Freeland's resignation, has agreed on procedures to appoint his successor and will begin considering candidates in a closed session tonight, a move that one resident criticized at the last council meeting.

The decision for a closed session came after the city clerk read Freeland's letter Monday declaring his resignation as of Nov. 18.

Freeland wrote, "It is my desire for the council to quickly decide on a procedure for selecting my replacement, that they tell the public as soon as possible, and that they accomplish the task" before Nov. 18. He added that he would stay in office temporarily after that date if no successor is appointed by then.

Council members John Tyner II, Viola Hovsepian and Stephen N. Abrams have indicated that they are interested in the job. Abrams said Monday that others who want to be considered should contact members of the council.

The city charter specifies that a mayoral vacancy must be filled by a majority vote of the four-member council. The council said that it would consider candidates over the age of 21 who have been Rockville residents for at least a year and who are registered to vote.

The suggestion for a closed session, made by Abrams, who acted as mayor in Freeland's absence Monday night, was opposed by resident Robert Jacques.

"I have nothing against executive sessions, but there's no reason for this procedure to be subject to such a session," Jacques said.

Abrams replied, "I think what we have to essentially get together on is define our own schedules and outline when we are going to meet, and what kind of concerns we have among ourselves."

Freeland set off a whirlwind of controversy in June when he accepted a top-level position with Eisinger-Kilbane & Associates, a Bethesda development firm that has projects in Rockville. Critics charged that Freeland's job was a conflict of interest because the firm often needs city approval for work.

Freeland said last week that he was resigning because a pending promotion from the firm would place demands on some of the time he wants to spend with his wife, Marilyn, who is ill.

Freeland said the controversy surrounding his job played no part in his decision to resign.