In a statement echoed by his colleagues, Supervisor James G. Burton (I-Mercer) said the outgoing board likely will be remembered most for its members' "bickering" but that "a lot of good things have happened."

During their last official meeting yesterday, board members offered sometimes emotional reflections on their tenure together as elected officials in the nation's third fastest-growing county.

"This board will have a legacy for some time dealing with the bickering," Burton said. "I wish people could set that aside and look at the things the board has done in a rapidly changing environment."

Burton is one of three supervisors who will return to the board next year. Supervisor Scott K. York (R-Sterling) will return as chairman after his slow growth campaign ended in a landslide victory over incumbent Dale Polen Myers (R-At Large). Eleanore C. Towe (D-Blue Ridge) was reelected.

Burton said the board supported the building of 15 new schools and the hiring of hundreds of new teachers. Myers said the board expanded the county's library system, began construction of a new courts complex and improved the county's bond rating.

"We created jobs. We created a great place to live," she said.

Still, they noted that many of their meetings have been fractious. "It's been a great run," said Lawrence S. Beerman II (R-Dulles). "We will be noted for a lot of 5-4 [votes], but later on, how this board came together to deal with a lot of difficult situations."

Before the November election board members were criticized by residents who said the board did not do enough to control growth development. Eight of nine newly elected board members were endorsed by a citizens group called Voters to Stop Sprawl.

York has scheduled a Dec. 29 meeting with the supervisors-elect.

"We've had some hard times up here in the last four years," York said. "I'll look forward to going on for another four years."

Tax Break Approved to Help Slow Growth

Loudoun supervisors yesterday approved a plan to reduce taxes for landowners who agree they will not develop their agricultural, horticultural, forest or open-space land for a set number of years.

The move is one of many that will help the county slow development and preserve its rural character, said Supervisor Scott K. York (R-Sterling). "Everything helps and there's no silver bullet," he said.

The tax rate will be reduced to 50 percent of the adopted rate for properties with agreements extending five to 10 years and to 1 percent of the adopted rate for properties with agreements to stay undeveloped for between 10 and 20 years, according to county staff.

County staff said the current average tax on land that would qualify for the program is about $5.62 per acre per year.

Landowners who take advantage of the tax benefit will not be eligible for another land preservation program under consideration. That program--known as purchase of development rights--would pay landowners who agree not to develop their property. The program is being considered by a citizens committee.

Leesburg Hires New Town Attorney

Leesburg has hired Spotsylvania's county attorney as its full-time town attorney.

William E. Donnelly III will take over most town legal issues from George M. Martin, who has been the town's attorney for decades. Under a contract with the town, Martin will be paid $1,100 a month to continue to help with legal advice, said Nancy Fixx, the town's personnel director. Deputy Town Attorney Deborah Welsh will help Donnelly initially and eventually will stop working for the town.

Donnelly, 54, a graduate of Georgetown University Law School, has been county attorney in Spotsylvania for five years, after spending seven years at the firm of Hazel & Thomas in Falls Church. Donnelly also served as an assistant county attorney for Fairfax. Donnelly will start work in Leesburg by the end of February and will be paid $90,000 a year.

Sunny Outlook for New Arts Center

Loudoun County will pay a Charlottesville company $240,000 over the next 10 years to run a solar energy system that will provide heat and lighting at The Barns at Franklin Park in Purcellville.

The Barns will be the county's first cultural and performing arts center. Volunteers have raised the bulk of the $2.6 million cost of the project and expect it to open in summer 2000.

Old Mill Power Co. will put in 2,050 solar panels, which will convert sunlight into electricity. The panels are being installed on one-third of an acre on a hillside near the center and will generate 300 kilowatts a day--enough to power six to eight four-bedroom homes, according to Alden Hathaway, the group's project energy manager. The light energy will be stored in batteries in a nearby utility barn.

"A day's worth of sunshine will provide the lighting and cooling for 300 people to sit in comfort to watch a performance," Hathaway said.

Staff writers Maria Glod, Dana Hedgpeth and Liz Seymour contributed to this report.