North Beach Public Works Director John D. Lehan abruptly resigned from his job at the end of last week, saying he was bothered by preferential treatment given by town officials to certain residents and developers.

"It seems that some citizens, property owners and developers are unfairly targeted or leaned on while others are extended special considerations or courtesy," Lehan wrote in an Aug. 12 resignation letter to the mayor and Town Council.

Lehan also took issue with "dysfunctional office procedures and policies" and complained of "micromanaging by the mayor and his minions."

North Beach Mayor Mark R. Frazer hired Lehan, 35, in December at a salary of $40,000 a year after firing the public works director from the previous administration, Robert McCormack.

St. Mary's Buys Land Near School

The St. Mary's County Board of Commissioners agreed Tuesday to pay $925,000 for 19 acres of land next to Great Mills High School, property that may someday be used for school expansion.

No one called it a bargain, but County Commissioners President Julie B. Randall (D-At Large) said owner Tom Waring's price of $925,000 for a property appraised at $1.2 million was appreciated by the commissioners.

"I think it's a very generous offer," Randall said, before the board voted unanimously to accept the deal.

County Attorney Alfred E. Lacer said he and Waring have been in discussions over the last several weeks aimed at the county's purchase of the land on Great Mills Road. The property once was discussed as a possible site for the new Lexington Park Library.

Under the deal endorsed Tuesday, the county has 60 days to sign a final contract.

Lacer said the county will pay Waring in two installments. The first installment of $250,000 is already budgeted and will be paid by Dec. 15. The second installment of $675,000 will be paid in July 2000, without interest, under the terms of the deal, Lacer said.

Lacer said the funds will be paid from the county's general revenue fund.

Forest Wasn't Saved for Ballfields

Hands off Chapman Forest! Or, at least, keep those soccer spikes and baseball cleats away.

That's the message from the Friends of Mount Aventine, the group that waged a long-running and ultimately successful campaign to thwart a planned housing development on the wooded lands around the historic Mount Aventine estate in western Charles County.

The group marked its major success a year ago, when Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) spent $25 million in state money to buy most of the 2,250 acres that had been slated to become the Chapman's Landing project.

Now, county officials--pressed by soccer, baseball and softball leagues that are hard pressed to find places to play--say they may want to use part of the preserved acreage for athletic fields.

Bad idea, says Bonnie Bick, president of the Friends of Mount Aventine, in a letter she sent to county commissioners on Monday.

"It is absolutely inappropriate to consider Chapman Forest or Ruth B. Swann [Memorial] Park as potential sites for athletic fields," writes Bick. "In the case of Chapman Forest, the state committed itself to this major purchase not for the sake of athletic fields . . . but as a major bioreserve."

Alex Winter, who with Bick was a prime mover in the preservation campaign, wrote a separate letter calling it "inappropriate speculation to think of this as a potential site for athletic fields."

State officials have promised abundant opportunity for public input as they decide how to use the land, which borders the Potomac River. But they've set no date for public hearings.

Heat May Disrupt School's Classes

Schools may have opened today in St. Mary's County, but it's clear that public school officials have their doubts about whether summer is over.

In a statement issued Tuesday, school officials warned that "prolonged periods of heat and humidity" may force them to cancel classes at Esperanza Middle School on days when such weather combines with ongoing construction work at the school to raise classroom temperatures beyond tolerable levels.

The announcement was meant to let parents of children at the school know that they will have to have an emergency child care plan to take care of their seventh- and eighth-graders in case it gets too hot to learn. Sixth-grade classes won't be affected; they are held in an air-conditioned annex.

Staff writer Todd Shields contributed to this report.