At its meeting next week, the Lovettesville Town Council is expected to approve the zoning map that has been used since a comprehensive plan was adopted in 1979. The vote is expected to end a controversy that has divided officials and residents for more than a year on the legality of the map and whether a new one is needed.

According to council member L.K. Bowman, a joint meeting of the council and the Planning Commission resulted in a verbal agreement that the old map was valid despite the apparent fact that it may not have been formally approved at the same time the comprehensive plan was adopted. If the map is approved, two members of the six-member council who had asked that their land be rezoned from residential to commercial will abstain from the vote. According to Planning Commission Chairman Bea McClain, the other four members told the Planning Commission they support the adoption of the old map.

"This is just a sleepy little town that's probably not going to go anyplace," McClain said. "We did a survey in 1976, and the majority of the residents wanted Lovettsville to remain a small rural community. Those people are still here." With three employes, the nearly 150-year-old grocery store McClain owns is the largest employer in town. Hummer and his wife Grace, a council member, have said they favor commercial growth in Lovettsville. "We need jobs to keep our young people here," Grace Hummer said recently. Hummer is one of the council members who requested rezoning of her property. "Now young people go away after high school and they don't come back -- except to visit."