Four months ago, Sequoia Building Corp., a behemoth developing company in Fairfax County, sent a letter to its subcontractors urging them to contribute to the campaigns of three incumbent Republicans on the Fairfax Board of Supervisors, including Chairman John F. Herrity.

Ray Smith, the president of Sequoia, was concerned that if antidevelopment Democrats, especially Herrity's opponent, Supervisor Audrey Moore, won the election, the county's prosperity -- and the profits of business people such as himself -- might be in jeopardy.

Moore trounced Herrity by a 3-to-2 margin and swept three new Democratic supervisors into office in the Nov. 3 elections. Within a month, Smith did a complete turn-around. He became a $2,500 sponsor of the Democrats' Cardinal Ball, a glitzy dinner-dance at Wolf Trap Farm Park organized to wipe out the party's campaign debts and celebrate its rout at the polls.

"This is a democracy, and the people have spoken," Smith, the incoming president of the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association, explained matter-of-factly. "You've got to play the hand you're dealt . . . . We are not going to be confrontational, negative or obstructive."

Smith is not the only one who has had a change of political heart since Moore's landslide victory. In recent weeks, the chairman-elect's calendar has been crammed with meetings with members of the opposite camp, including the county Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association, most of whose members favored Herrity, and such prominent developers as John T. (Til) Hazel and Alan I. Kay.

Builders and business leaders have initiated some of the peace offerings. But Moore, who for years would not even let developers into her office, has become the most active suitor.

Moore, who takes office Jan. 1, said she finds the otherwise routine fence mending just short of "incredible," and many of her allies agree. Just a few months ago, hostile business leaders and developers were predicting that the economic foundations of the county would crumble and there would be mass resignations by the county staff if she were elected.

Instead, there is a sense of urgency about repairing relations during the final weeks of transition, according to numerous political, government and business leaders. If Moore's four-year term as chairman is to be a success, they say, she must forge a partnership with area business and development concerns so that the county's transportation problems can be addressed.

"It's olive branch time," said James H. Edmondson, a McLean apartment developer and member of the Democratic Business Forum Advisory Board, a group of business and development leaders who are trying to make the party's mainstream more sympathetic to business interests.

"People are looking for rapprochement," Edmondson said. "We want to preserve the good stuff going on while making changes and having an impact on how the Democratic majority and Audrey run the show . . . . All we want is the opportunity to clap loud, open our pocketbooks and tell people what we think."

Moore's outreach program, and her message that the new board must act quickly and decisively to tackle the area's growing transportation crisis, has won her admiration among many who were previously her harshest critics.

"When it comes to forcing action, I think Audrey's likely to be one of the most effective officeholders we've ever had up here," said Hazel, one of the area's most influential developers who has had a stormy relationship with Moore for a decade. "She will let no one rest between here and Richmond until they start moving some dirt."

More than anything, the meetings between business leaders and the chairman-elect are designed to remove a level of uncertainty about what is on Moore's agenda.

"I felt it was important to talk to business people to tell them I'm not going to try to get the board to approve a building permit moratorium or a sewer moratorium, or do what I couldn't do through the front door through the back door," Moore said in a recent interview. "I don't want anybody excluded from the process."

The dialogue also is important, according to numerous officials, to allay fears of retribution. Business leaders, many of whom supported the old board, which had a 5-to-4 Republican majority, do not want lingering hostility and mistrust from the new board, which will have seven Democrats.

Moore "doesn't want four years of rock throwing," said developer Albert J. Dwoskin, who said he persuaded Smith to be a sponsor of the Cardinal Ball by telling him, "You've got to have a presence with the Democrats."

"That doesn't mean everything she and the new board does will be met with cheers and applause by every segment of the community," Dwoskin said. "But at least they're meeting socially and mingling, and that's the way it ought to be . . . . She's not developing her agenda in a vacuum."

There is a "honeymoon," many believe, in part because Moore's immediate agenda is focused on transportation, not divisive land use issues that could mobilize business and development leaders against her.

During the campaign, for instance, Moore pledged to to renew an attempt, defeated a year ago after a huge outcry from developers, to restrict severely the amount of office construction permissible on more than 10,000 acres in the county that are zoned for industrial use, the "I zone" issue.

Moore said she still intends to seek a reduction of density levels in industrial zones -- perhaps in a much different way than proposed last time. Developers indicated that they again would lobby hard against such a reduction.

Nonetheless, much of the optimism expressed by her former critics comes from a belief that the state's Democratic governor and General Assembly will be more inclined to assist Moore, a party ally, than Herrity. Over the years, Herrity's harsh rhetoric and brash style alienated and antagonized many in Richmond.

Moore played a crucial role in swinging parts of Northern Virginia into Gov. Gerald L. Baliles' camp during his primary battle against then-Lt. Gov. Richard J. Davis in 1985, and a close kinship has developed between the two. Baliles was state attorney general at the time.

Business leaders hope that relationship will cut two ways, with Baliles exerting a moderating influence on Moore's land use agenda and Moore using her friendship with the governor to lobby for more generous transportation assistance from the state.

"You've got the state's number one economic champion in Gerald Baliles and the state's number one controlled growth champion in Audrey Moore," noted Don Beyer Jr., vice chairman of finance for the state Democratic Party. "Gerry's there to make sure Audrey doesn't go too far, and Audrey's there to make sure Baliles doesn't go too far."

State Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), a key adviser in Moore's campaign, put it differently: "We've got a situation where {Baliles} wants to help Audrey and make her look good, and vice versa."