The owners of a piece of land that was in the path of the future Fairfax County Parkway did not realize the potential value of the parcel when they sold it to a state legislator and a former Prince William County supervisor, the owners and others said in interviews.

The legislator, Del. David G. Brickley (D-Prince William), and former supervisor G. Richard Pfitzner made a $485,000 profit on the 3.8-acre parcel when they sold it to the state 15 months later, according to Fairfax County land records.

A federal grand jury in Alexandria has subpoenaed assessment information and other records about the parcel in an investigation of land sales in a mile-long stretch of the parkway, formerly known as the Springfield Bypass, according to sources.

The probe apparently was fueled by questions about why the state was purchasing land from a member of the General Assembly and whether Brickley and Pfitzner used their influence to mislead the former owners about the value of the property, according to people interviewed by the FBI.

In interviews with The Washington Post, members of a local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars -- which sold the property at 7026 Hooes Rd. to Brickley -- and others familiar with property values in the area said the VFW apparently did not know enough about zoning laws to understand the parcel's full worth.

"We thought we got the fair market value at the time, given what we knew of the situation," said Merle Crabb, head of the VFW's building committee, who helped negotiate the sale with Brickley. "Maybe we made a bad guess."

"I think the VFW just blew it," said T. William Dowdy, an attorney for two other landowners who sold property along Hooes Road to the state. "If they had come to me, I would have said, 'Hold on {to the parcel}.' . . . The VFW has got to feel like they got really bad advice from somebody, if they got any advice at all."

Brickley's partnership bought the property from the Springfield post of the VFW in August 1987 for $315,000 and sold it to the state for $800,000 in November 1988, according to land records.

The site is directly in the path of the parkway, a 35-mile cross-county road that is Fairfax County's highest transportation priority. About 12 miles of the road have been completed.

Brickley, a mortgage banker who has extensive land holdings in Northern Virginia, said in an interview last week that he did not know the parkway would cross the property when his partnership purchased it.

He said the partnership, which had expressed interest in buying the VFW property as early as 1978, hoped to combine the land with another 4.5-acre parcel that it owned across the street and eventually rezone all of the land for an office or hotel.

According to records filed in Fairfax County Circuit Court, most of the land along Hooes Road bought by the state for the parkway right of way, including the parcel being scrutinized by the FBI and the grand jury, was purchased for roughly $210,000 an acre.

Crabb said that the VFW had not had its property appraised before selling it to Brickley's partnership, and that he was surprised the value of the land was so high when the state bought it from Brickley. He said VFW officials believed the worth of the property was based on its zoning, which allowed for one house per acre.

Actually, the value was based more on Fairfax County's Comprehensive Land Use Plan -- which allowed most parcels in the area to be rezoned for four or five housing units per acre, according to Thomas E. Reed, a private appraiser who evaluated some of the Hooes Road parcels for the Virginia Department of Transportation. The land use plan significantly increased the value of the property, he said.

Crabb said his organization did not feel it had been deceived by Brickley or Pfitzner. "The FBI agent asked, 'Did Brickley mislead us?' and no, he didn't," Crabb said. "We said, 'We have a bird in the hand, we can't build on it {because of the future road}, so why not take the $315,000 and get out,' and we're still satisfied with the deal."

"We knew we were getting a good price. They didn't mislead our committee," said another VFW member involved in the sale. "We figured the property was worth about $200,000, and when we got this offer, everybody said, 'Grab it.' "

However, Crabb said Brickley's contention that he did not know the path of the parkway when he purchased the VFW land in 1987 was "silly," saying that blueprints from as early as 1985 showed the property would be "crippled" by the road. "There would have been nothing left," Crabb said.

Brickley was out of town and not available for comment yesterday. Pfitzner did not return numerous phone calls to his office.

Meanwhile, a local developer -- who was mentioned in a grand jury subpoena and whose identity was learned by The Post -- said in an interview last week that as early as 1985 he decided not to buy the VFW parcel because it was clear the state would need almost all of the property for construction of the parkway.

Kyle Meyer, president of American Building Systems, said his firm considered buying the parcel from the VFW in late 1984 or early 1985, two years before Brickley's partnership purchased it. Meyer said he wanted to buy the land and rezone it for a town house development, but he decided against it after a feasibility study showed that the parkway "was going to significantly affect the property. It was going to wipe out 90 percent of it."

Meyer and his real estate agent, Julia Lutz, said in separate interviews that they learned in meetings with county officials that the parkway was going to cross the property.

A subpoena issued to the county Office of Transportation sought information about any meetings transportation staff members had with Meyer and Lutz concerning possible rezonings on five parcels -- including the one owned by the VFW -- between October and November 1984, according to sources.