The Prince George's County legislative delegation agreed yesterday to a proposal that would allow the County Council to defer property taxes for up to five years for a greater number of builders whose property is rezoned for mixed-use development.

The proposal is seen as a way to head off antigrowth sentiment in the county by giving developers an incentive to delay construction and spend more time designing their projects. Enabling legislation must be adopted by the General Assembly and the council will have to approve a local ordinance before the tax break becomes law.

Only property of 25 acres or more that is rezoned by the council in a comprehensive design, or mixed-use, staged-development classification would be eligible for the tax delays.

Property owners, whose land would be reassessed at a higher rate because of the rezoning, would not have to pay the additional taxes on undeveloped land until a construction permit is issued or for five years. This type of tax deferral is now available for land zoned commercial or industrial in the staged-development classification, but is rarely used. The new legislation would apply to all types of development, including residential.

"This will slow down growth," said Del. James C. Rosapepe, a College Park Democrat. "If you get property rezoned and the assessment goes up, you don't have to pay the increased tax until you build or five years later."

Supporters of the legislation, including the the Prince George's Chamber of Commerce, which asked the delegation to consider the proposal, said it would make it more affordable for developers to complete a comprehensive design plan rather than building quickly to recoup the cost of paying higher taxes.

"The additional tax burden is a disincentive for this kind of {comprehensive design} zoning procedure," said Del. Francis J. Santangelo, a Democrat from Hyattsville.

"The comprehensive design will make the development more environmentally pleasing and people oriented," said Edith Booker, chamber lobbyist. "If this can help the process of orderly development, it will head off antigrowth feeling."

Critics of the bill said it would siphon money from county coffers, particularly at a time when officials are expanding spending on education and law enforcement.

"The bill is a bad bill," said Democratic Del. Gary R. Alexander of Fort Washington. "It doesn't do anything for economic development. The county is always down here crying for money. It takes money away from the schools and the county."

But a county lobbyist said the legislation would not cut tax receipts in the long run and that the county would collect all taxes due it -- and could charge interest -- when the land is developed or at the end of five-year deferral period.