Developers are withdrawing an application to rezone 716 acres in mostly rural eastern Montgomery County to build a commercial and office project that drew stiff opposition from civic groups and county planners.

The County Council is expected to give routine approval today to the request by Miller and Smith Land Inc. of McLean to withdraw the application for the $450 million project known as Lakemont.

The site, at the southeast corner of New Hampshire Avenue and Ednor Road, is now designated for rural or low-density residential use.

Gordon Smith, president of Miller and Smith, said canceling the plans "became the only thing to do" after the the county planning staff and the Planning Board recommended denying rezoning.

Smith said the project, which would have included a golf course, would have had enough green space to retain some of the area's rural character. "We presented what we thought was a good plan . . . . It is clear we cannot pursue commercial zoning there," Smith said. He said that in two or three months his firm intends to present plans for a residential development on the site.

Plans for Lakemont, which was to have up to 3.2 million square feet of office and hotel space and be built over 15 years, drew angry reactions from residents in Ashton, Sandy Spring and Olney, who formed the Anti-Lakemont Rezoning Movement (ALARM).

Sue Reed, a leader of ALARM, said her group will continue to monitor development proposals for the site. "We won't be satisfied until we know that future proposals will keep the current zoning of one house per two acres," she said.

The site is near the route of the proposed inter-county connector highway and considered a choice spot for commercial development.