For the second time in more than two decades, the Montgomery County Council turned down a Master Plan amendment yesterday that would have allowed apartment development in the predominantly black-owned April-Stewart Lane area of White Oak.

The amendment was being sought by longtime residents eager to sell out and move from the ramshackle, backwoods area off Rte. 29 in the eastern county. The residents, who lack county water, sewer and road service, were preparing to sell their land for about $2.5 million to an apartment developer -- but most of the sales were contingent on rezoning.

Some community residents believe the county has previously discriminated against them by rejecting rezoning requests, while approving similar requests from nearby white landowners.

But the council, saying that the crowded Rte. 29 corridor is already under a moratorium for apartment construction, instead voted 5 to 1 to buy about 34 acres of the 56-acre community for parkland. Despite an indication yesterday from County Planning Board Chairman Norman L. Christeller that additional park space is not a priority in that area, council members said they believe recreation facilities are needed to serve the populous southeastern county.

"Kids in my neighborhood" of eastern Silver Spring "have to go to Prince George's County to play soccer," council member Rose Crenca said. She said a Master Plan amendment permitting apartments in an already crowded area would set a bad precedent.

Cristeller and County Executive Sidney Kramer have indicated that the rezoning could make up in part for the neglect of the neighborhood by the county. But, said Crenca, "We don't reward people with rezoning. That's illegal."

The council decision was bitterly noted by some elderly residents of April-Stewart Lane whose land is under contract to Faller Development Co., the first buyer in recent years to show serious interest in the property. The settlement is inhabited by 12 families and owned by more than 100 individuals, including heirs of former owners.

The older residents regarded Faller's offer -- of about $40,000 to $125,000 an acre -- as their only chance for some financial security. "I'm really disappointed," said Gladys Smith, who has lived there for more than 70 years. "I feel we should be able to sell that property."

Isiah Leggett, who represents the White Oak area and is the council's only black member, was the author of the parkland resolution. He said he wanted to guarantee that the landowners could sell their land without overburdening public services by putting apartments there. He said after the meeting that the county is prepared to begin negotiations with landowners to offer "a fair price," one that could even be higher than that offered by the developer.

Charles Faller III said yesterday that his firm would help pay for a court challenge of the council action being considered by the landowners. He and his associates said Faller Construction had planned to dedicate 75 percent of the 600-unit development to open space, and to give a portion of the property to the county for parkland.

Council member William Hanna, the only member to vote against the park acquisition plan yesterday, said it was "clear from the record that the land should have been rezoned when major pieces of land {in the neighborhood} were being rezoned many years ago. We now find a community that has reaped none of the benefits . . . and has been given no particular consideration since that time."