BUCKEYSTOWN, MD. -- For generations, this village five miles south of Frederick was touted as the heart of "the Great Limestone Valley," a north-south strip of land underlain with rich deposits of stone, to be mined and crushed and made into the stuff of progress: concrete and asphalt for roads and buildings in Washington and Baltimore.

So it's not surprising that F.O. Day of Rockville and Martin Marietta Aggregates of Raleigh, N.C., a subsidiary of the major defense contractor, would want a piece of the rock.

Their proposals to mine 600 acres on two tracts near here would seem to be in keeping with the area's history. A generation ago, the proposed quarries might not have caused such a ruckus.

But things are different now. Old-timers and newcomers, farmers and businessmen have formed a united front against the quarries, charging that they are incompatible with Frederick County's new white-collar growth of high-tech office parks, trendy restaurants and inns and large-lot subdivisions.

"Frederick is no Third World country, subject to exploitation for natural resources by outsiders," stormed Frederick News-Post columnist Roy Meachum.

Opponents also fear that the quarries will hamper farming, stifle the county's efforts to attract what it considers more desirable industry and generally do violence to the quality of small-town life within commuting distance of city jobs. The excavating firms say they have taken such concerns into consideration and contend that their operations will have no adverse environmental impact.

With both sides, location is everything.

County boosters who once saw rural Frederick as the breadbasket of Maryland now refer to it as the western end of a "Golden Triangle" of interstate highways linking Frederick, Washington and Baltimore.

This means the trucks can easily transport the crushed stone to construction sites. It also means that, thanks to the access, scenery and lower land costs, companies have been flocking here. Within a few miles of the two quarry sites, Marriott Corp. has opened its worldwide computer center, and last week Federal Standard Savings & Loan broke ground on a nearby corporate operations headquarters, both just south of I-270.

"We've been successful at what every county in the country wants: attracting the best and the brightest, diversification, small- and medium-sized companies," said Donald Date of the county's economic development committee. "We believe quarries are incompatible with that."

Since he came to the county 17 years ago and the committee was formed in 1977, he said, "the whole tone of development has changed. You begin to set a tone for some pretty major investment." The 80 jobs the quarries will offer don't cut it compared with the 700 people Federal Standard will employ.

Moreover, the metropolitan commuters who have increasingly occupied new subdivisions and quaint old Victorian homes as the county's population has grown from 114,782 in 1980 to 135,960 this year aren't interested in providing the raw resources for growth in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

In opposing the quarries, residents have been joined by the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, which has a retreat near here, and by former U.S. senator Birch Bayh of Indiana, whose family regularly patronizes a Buckeystown bed-and-breakfast.

That Marietta, which operates 175 quarries in 12 states, promises to run a "state-of-the-art" quarry here does not impress the distrustful members of the antiquarry coalition, which has mounted a campaign of letter-writing, newspaper ads, T-shirts, balloons, posters and petitions.

Their yellow posters are plastered throughout the countryside, and the group's logo has been incorporated into the ads of the Francis Scott Key Mall in Frederick, where merchants have joined the opposition. Antiquarry forces have even picketed Martin Marietta Aggregates' parent corporation in Bethesda.

"When we decided to pursue the Frederick site, we knew we would be dealing with a very intelligent, sophisticated group of people," said Stephen P. Zelnak Jr., president of Martin Marietta Aggregates, which has countered by hiring a public relations firm, buying ads in the local newspaper and even staffing an office in downtown Frederick complete with a model of its proposed quarry.

While Marietta has gone on the counteroffensive, Day has taken a lower public profile. The firm has a construction arm that uses the materials it excavates for road paving and other building projects. President F.O. (Mike) Day declined to discuss the controversy. Lawyer David Severn, representing the firm, said that "much of {the publicity} has been needless."

The highly charged battle of the quarries has preoccupied residents through the summer and into the fall. "Most of us involved in it have abandoned {remodeling} houses, children, spouses, school, let things slide, because so much effort is required," said Francesca McCarter, who lives here in an 1893 home she and her husband, a commuter to Crystal City, have been renovating.

McCarter is on the steering committee of CODE (Citizens Opposed to the Destruction of the Environment), the antiquarry umbrella group that counts among its members Ilene Liszka, 34, the mother of four small children who lives in a large tract house adjoining the Marietta property.

Under Marietta's proposal, her back-yard view of cornfields and a mountain would be blocked by an earthen berm behind which the company will store an "overburden" of surface dirt and rocks it must excavate to reach the limestone.

"I thought this was heaven because certainly in Montgomery County we couldn't afford an acre and a house this size with a view of Sugarloaf Mountain," said Liszka, whose husband teaches high school in Potomac. "Now, my stomach is up to {my neck} all day long. It's really devastating because I don't want to live next to a quarry and I don't want to move."

In July, the county planning board recommended against the quarries. The other week, the elected county commissioners heard four nights of testimony which both sides videotaped, and promised to render their decision Oct. 20. Whichever way they decide, a court challenge is expected.

"I know the pressures politicians are placed under, especially in zoning," Martin Marietta attorney Norris Byrnes told the commissioners Sept. 29. "But zoning is not a plebiscite . . . based on how many people applaud and clap . . . . People say, 'Build us roads and better homes but get the material somewhere else.' "

The quarry companies say they have the law on their side. They argue that mining is allowed in agricultural zones and that quarries are compatible with such neighbors as Eastalco, an aluminum reducing plant, and the Coplay Cement Co. at Lime Kiln, up the road from Buckeystown.

The opponents argue that the quarries will forever do away with prime farmland, in addition to discouraging the migration of more "clean industry" to the county. Beyond that, they recite a familiar litany of concerns: heavy truck traffic over narrow, winding country roads; air and noise pollution from blasting; a decline in property values, and the destruction of the bucolic life style that brought them here in the first place.

Mehrl Mayne has another fear. A Buckeystown farmer with firmly planted roots in the county dating back to the 1700s, Mayne, 67, asserts that lime dust landing on his corn and soybeans will block the sun the crops need.

The quarry companies argue that the fears of Mayne and others are groundless. Marietta is acquiring twice as much land as it will ever need to provide a buffer, and the operation will be enclosed to prevent dust from blanketing the countryside, Zelnak said.

"If I lived up there, I'd probably feel the same" as the residents, said Mary Means, whose Alexandria firm was hired by Marietta to get its message across to a skeptical public. "But the whole effort to put out information has been hampered by immediate assumptions and firmly taken positions taken early. This is definitely state-of-the-art environmental design."

Countered the homeowners association of Crestwood Village, a development on the southern outskirts of Frederick city, the county seat: "We need a state-of-the-art county. Not state-of-the-art quarries."