The Prince George's County Council on Tuesday approved the appointment of zoning lawyer Leslie F. Moore as people's zoning counsel, despite protests from some civic association leaders that Moore's background placed her too close to big developers.

A unanimous council brushed aside the charge that County Executive Parris Glendening's nomination of Moore was politically motivated. Moore was a partner in the firm of O'Malley, Miles, McCarthy & Harrell, long considered one of the most politically influential law firms in the county and a central power broker in the county Democratic Party. The firm also has represented several of the larger developments in rezoning hearings, including the proposed 2,000-acre Konterra mixed-use development in Laurel.

"What is the county executive trying to pull?" said Walter Maloney, a Beltsville civic association member and critic of the appointment. "You have a nominee coming {before council} with a background of obvious partiality. The question is . . . is her view of planning and zoning the same as the county executive's?"

Council member Richard J. Castaldi, who has questioned the pace of growth in his rapidly developing district, including Greenbelt and Bowie, denied critics' charges that Moore "is too tied to private interests" to participate objectively in rezoning hearings.

"The buck stops here," he said. "We nine council members make those decisions on what is to be zoned or rezoned based on the record. We have {in Moore} a competent, qualified person, a professional."

The position of people's zoning counsel was established to serve as an independent lawyer with duties to protect the public interest and compile a complete record, according to the county charter. Moore's predecessor charged the county $90 an hour for his legal services.

Moore, also a member of the Suburban Maryland Building Industry Association, the Prince George's Chamber of Commerce and Women In Land Development, said her background would not conflict with her new role.

"It is a continuation of my career," she said after the vote. "You are looking at the same subject from a different direction."

Moore pledged to remove herself from any cases that would involve former clients or legal partners. To handle those instances, estimated by one civic activists to have constituted 15 percent of the cases involving the people's zoning counsel in 1986, the county executive said he would name a deputy counsel by the end of the week. That position has not been filled in a decade.

Members of the 26-association Prince George's Civic Federation, which was scheduled to discuss the nomination at a meeting today, appeared split over the appointment of Moore. Carmen Anderson, past president of the group, accused the Glendening administration of slipping the nomination through over the holiday break, which did not give members a chance to take a formal position. The nomination was announced Nov. 16, the day Glendening appointed former People's Zoning Counsel Joel D. Rozner as his chief of staff.

Moore graduated in 1980 from the University of Maryland School of Law.