After years of successfully luring developers to construct office buildings in Herndon, the Town Council appears poised to roll up the welcome mat.

Council members say their principal concerns are that growing office construction has congested the town's arteries and driven up land values, which threatens to undermine the area's commercial business sector. "I think what has happened is that the council is reflecting the feelings of the town, that we just have enough office space," said Gerald Yates, a council member who has lived in Herndon for 11 years.

The council displayed its resolve two weeks ago when it expressed opposition to a request to rezone a 37-acre parcel to light industrial use in the eastern part of town that abuts on the Herndon parkway.

Seven acres of the tract are zoned for light industrial use; the remaining 30 acres are zoned for single-family housing and commercial space.

The Ravenwood Management Co., owner of the land, said it intended to develop 80 percent of the property for office space and the remaining land for warehouses.

But council members and town planning advisers consider the concept more of the same and suggested that Ravenwood go back to the drawing board. The council said it would allow Ravenwood to modify its proposal before a final decision is made Feb. 9.

"We just don't feel that the amount of office space is what the town is looking for," said Raymond P. Ocel, Herndon planning director.

Council members who face reelection in four months say they are concerned that the abundance of office space could transform a town into an office park and force retail and commercial establishments to seek refuge in Loudoun County or lower-cost districts.

"We're trying to preserve those businesses that are likely to move," said William J. Des Rochers, who holds a seat on the seven-member planning commission.

Of the Ravenwood property, Ocel said, "It's the last large parcel of land that would be available for those types of {commercial} uses."

Lester Zidel, a member of the planning commission who owns an automobile transmission center, said that although he would like to expand his facility, he was dissuaded by rapidly increasing rents. Instead, Zidel said he would add a second shift to his operation.

George Bailey, owner of Herndon Reston Autobody, said he considered purchasing additional land for his business but decided that the move was not economically feasible. He has since added a second shift of workers.

"You don't see businesses moving out yet, but it's getting tougher for people to stay," Bailey said.

Zidel said opposition to the Ravenwood rezoning application is not intended to signal an antigrowth sentiment in Herndon, but is an attempt by the council to ensure that a balance is achieved among residential, retail, commercial and industrial space.

"I think we're very cautious because we understand that this balance is very important," he said. "I'm a pro-growth person, but I believe in mixed use."

Robert Sevila, attorney for Ravenwood, which is composed of a Northern Virginia family, said he understands the council's desire to slow the growth rate of office buildings, but suggested the council's sentiment is politically motivated.

"Attitudes and positions change as election time comes, not because of posturing, but because they {council members} seem more in tune with each other and the people," said Sevila, who is from Herndon and served on the council from 1974 to 1976.

Several council members acknowledged that their opposition is in response to concerns expressed by residents, but added that their view reflects a broader realization that action must be taken to preserve the character of Herndon. Nonetheless, Sevila said Ravenwood is likely to submit a modified rezoning application.

Dispute over the Ravenwood request comes as the planning commission is about to submit a proposal to alter the town's Comprehensive Plan, a blueprint for development that is reviewed by the council every five years.

Ocel and Zidel said the draft proposal undoubtedly will recommend that growth be aimed at expanding commercial space and single-family houses. The council is expected to make a final determination on the plan at the end of February.

"Ten years ago, we had little or no office space in town," said Lloyd Johnson, a council member. "We just did not have a tax base that allowed us to do much, like build a road system or a parkway."

Johnson added, "As you go along, it becomes apparent that there are other things that you need to worry about. I think we're at a juncture in the town's development where we've reached the saturation point in business offices."