Calling it the mark of a growing county, Prince William County Executive Robert Noe said last week his administration has lost five people in top positions this month, most of them in the field of development.

In addition, project manager James Naylor said he will leave the county in May. Last month, information officer Joyce Eaby left for a job in the private sector in Fairfax.

Others who are leaving or have left for other positions are: Martin Crahan, director of the Department of Development Administration; Edward Luckett, the department's deputy director; J.W. Pierce, chief of construction inspection; and William Marchand, chief of tax assessments.

"This county is in a state of rapid growth, and these are all high-stress jobs relating to that growth," said Noe. "The people who are leaving were in a place where there were significant transitions. All the factors that bring on stress were in the same place at the same time."

The employes in the Department of Development Administration held positions that were "among the worst" for stress, he added.

Connie Bawcum, recently named as one of two deputies to Noe after the resignation of deputy Richard Noble last October, will replace Crahan. The other positions have not been filled.

According to Marchand, a firm in Atlanta contacted him after hearing about the tax assessment program that his department runs. Crahan was hired by the engineering firm of Dewberry and Davis, Noe said.

The county is noted for hiring bright young executives, and often has been called the "personnel pool of Northern Virginia." Last year, 3.8 percent of the county's 1,200 salaried employes left for higher salaries in other jurisdictions.

Noe, concerned about reports from his department heads that valued employes were leaving, asked the Board of Supervisors last year for $3.18 million to upgrade pay scales and asked that a salary cap on certain positions be eliminated.