I would like to respond to the three "dismayed" shopkeepers who objected {Letters to the Weekly, Oct. 1} to "one group of witnesses invok{ing} the names of our stores" at recent Montgomery County Council hearings on the county executive's amendment to the annual growth plan for Silver Spring.

I can't understand why these three persons are angry. They should have heard the full arguments of those making them. The stores were praised as amenities of Silver Spring, as unique treasures making the town a good place to live. Lipman's Art Shop and Dale Music are cultural landmarks patronized by shoppers from outside the county, and Sakura Palace, if it was mentioned at all, also "draws." That's all that was said. The "dismayed" shopkeepers might double-check the hearing transcript on this count.

Okay, people hear things and jump to conclusions, I thought at first when reading their letter. But as I read on I became dismayed myself. There I saw a lament about Hecht's leaving, a call for revitalizing the downtown core "now" and a curious proposition: "If Silver Spring is again full of life in the evenings and on weekends, we will prosper and those of us who live around the downtown will again be part of a vital community." If "live" means "reside," I fear we may have a problem. One of the signers of the letter does have a Silver Spring address, but it is in the White Oak area. The others appear to reside farther away.

Maybe at some time in the distant past, Dale Music and Lipman's drew customers from moviegoers and department store shoppers, but as the department stores waned, Lipman's seems to have flourished. Dale Music, as I recall from when my son took violin lessons in its upstairs studios, did most of its business with institutions, especially schools -- selling, renting and repairing instruments and selling sheet music to serious players -- not with casual shoppers wandering over from a department store. It's still thus, I understand. With the demise of Ellsworth's in Bethesda, Dale Music appears to be drawing people into our town. But night life at Dale? Check its hours. Ditto Lipman's.

Sakura Palace, an evening operation more than half a mile from the "core," would have to work some magic to draw over department store shoppers. As projected, shoppers in the mall's office complex are to be walled into a self-contained paradise of delights to the eye as well as the mouth.

Had the three signatories been at the hearings, they'd have heard several plans for development squaring more with their interests and eminently more "doable" than the megaliths those managing the Chamber of Commerce are attempting to force on those of us who really live close to the downtown.

If they own their buildings, maybe they see capital gains in their futures, the eternal answer to increased assessments. They could then retire or relocate. If they pay rents, they had better plan on relocating or retiring. However, their exits would be our great loss. CLARENCE STEINBERG Silver Spring