Loudoun County is ready for a fight. And more than that: It's even ready to pay for it.

Emboldened by November elections that swept eight slow-growth advocates to victory, the county's new Board of Supervisors has set aside almost $1 million to defend its anti-sprawl moves against likely court challenges by home builders.

"We have no time to waste," said Scott K. York (R-At Large), the board's chairman. "We're trying to protect our county, trying to protect our schools and channeling growth where it is appropriate and keeping it away from where it is not."

About 1,000 people have been moving into Loudoun every month recently, making it the nation's third-fastest-growing county. But builders say that they're only supplying what buyers are demanding and that the fight has only just begun.

"The building industry responds to the marketplace need for diverse types, numbers and location of housing," wrote attorney Grayson P. Hanes, representing the local builders' association. "While my client is accustomed to being the 'whipping boy' for many problems of government, it will not stand by and be legislated out of existence. It . . . will protect its interests as required."

CAPTION: About 1,000 people have moved into Loudoun every month recently, making it the nation's third-fastest-growing county. The house shown is near Waterford.