A developer's plan to build a luxury golf course on the last large open tract in eastern Loudoun has drawn fire from some Countryside residents and an environmental group, who say the proposed construction would bring unwanted traffic into the subdivision, damage wetlands and harm wildlife.

Potomac Investment Associates, developer of Avenel in Potomac, Md., wants to build the course on about 150 acres of Horsepen Run, an undeveloped 374-acre tract of forests and meadows between Countryside and the Potomac River. It would lease the land, which is owned by all Countryside residents, from the community's board of directors.

The board of directors favors the golf course plan, although it has not voted on whether to go ahead with it. The plan, revealed in early October, will come up again at the board's meeting Nov. 28.

"We all {the board of directors} are in favor of this project," said Roy Soltoff, president of the board. "We feel it's in the best interest of the community."

But some residents of the 2,500-home subdivision aren't so sure. At an informational meeting about the project last week, nearly all 50 residents present were against the golf course.

"We thought {Horsepen Run} would always be just the way it is," said resident Marcia Cozart.

Soltoff said the community would be much better served by some improvements to Horsepen Run, such as bicycle paths and walking trails, which the developer has promised to build in exchange for the right to build a golf course.

The developer also has pledged to expand a pool house in one of Countryside's neighborhoods into a 6,000-square-foot community center. Countryside does not have a community center, and Soltoff said that has been a sore point with residents. Residents "have asked for a community center, but their desire to pay for it doesn't mesh with what they're asking for," he said.

So far, none of the proposals are down on paper, and that bothers some residents.

"This is like a handshake," said Cheryl Forbes, a Countryside resident and member of the environmental group Friends of Horsepen Run, which favors keeping the tract untouched. "Nothing's written down; nothing's been shown to us."

Soltoff said that after hearing from residents, the board would vote only on an agreement to work with the developer on a golf course plan. He said details would be worked out over time and would involve committees that would include residents.

The golf course plan is not the only use proposed for Horsepen Run, Soltoff said. He said he has talked with the Loudoun County Department of Parks and Recreation about leasing some of the tract for soccer fields. The board of directors also has considered using part of the tract for a tree farm, garden plots and a compost heap.

Dana Malone, of the Virginia Department of Forestry, said he had recommended to Soltoff that the tract's 150 to 200 acres of forest be preserved as a buffer between the community and the Potomac.

Forbes said Friends of Horsepen Run will sponsor another meeting on the plan at 8 p.m. tomorrow in the cafeteria of Algonkian Elementary School.

"It's a tract of land that's very valuable," Forbes said. "It has a lot of rare things, even some eagles. And we know that a lot of it is wetlands," federally protected land that is subject to flooding.

But Soltoff said the board would not allow development on sensitive areas. He said the board has walked the tract with state and federal environmental officials and would follow their recommendations. He also said the board would not go ahead with the plan if the community is strongly opposed.

"We're not trying to wipe out Horsepen Run," he said.