Democratic slow-growth advocate Alfred P. Van Huyck, surrounded by backers wearing yellow and black "I Like Van Huyck" stickers, formally launched his campaign for chairman of Loudoun County's Board of Supervisors this week, promising to broaden efforts to control development while working more closely with local businesses.

Van Huyck, a Round Hill resident and former planning commissioner from the Blue Ridge District, told supporters at the Ashburn firehouse Monday that current supervisors Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large) has failed to do enough to help suburban residents cope with the effects of Loudoun's breakneck residential development.

"We must avoid the old cliche{acute}: 'Virginians start slowly and then taper off,' " said Van Huyck, a former Army lieutenant and urban planner who advised communities and local leaders in 65 countries from Eastern Europe to South Asia before focusing full time on Loudoun.

"There's a huge task remaining to bring the planning and zoning for suburban Loudoun up to date. . . . So much more has to be done, and could have been done, had Mr. York, who controls the agenda, been willing," he said.

York, a Sterling resident, was one of seven board members who voted last week to overhaul the county's zoning ordinance, sharply reducing the number of homes that can be built in rural western Loudoun and adding new environmental rules countywide.

As usual, York said, "he's wrong." He declined to offer a specific rebuttal "until we get into full-blown campaign season. . . . We look forward to debating those issues."

Much of Loudoun's Democratic establishment was present for Van Huyck's announcement, including the county's four Democratic supervisors and many party officials. Van Huyck, who moved to Loudoun in 1990 and ran unsuccessfully for board chairman in 1991, was introduced by former Lt. Gov. Donald Beyer Jr., who praised him as "the best possible man for a tough job.

"The promise of smart growth . . . goes unfulfilled, with no leadership and no progress in sight," Beyer said. "There's a savior in sight. . . . He's spent the past dozen years giving himself to this county in all ways possible."

Van Huyck pledged to implement the county's Comprehensive Plan, which he helped to write, through partnerships with Loudoun's business community, which he said "has been alienated from the smart-growth process."

"I respect their role and right to be at the table as partners when the issues are discussed, even if I may disagree," Van Huyck said.

Van Huyck also pledged to keep taxes in check, improve schools and spur economic development.

York, who also has been criticized by some Republican opponents for his slow-growth efforts, offered a barb at local leaders of his own party who are to decide this month what type of nominating process will be used to choose GOP candidates.

One contested issue is whether to hold a primary, in which Republican voters could stop by during the day to cast ballots, or some sort of convention, which could require party members to participate in a more time-consuming gathering.

York's supporters have said the latter option could give the upper hand to a core of committed activists who oppose the chairman and his slow-growth policies. But York, who plans to seek reelection, said he was confident he would prevail in either case.

"We will beat them whether they choose an open and honest process or whether they keep it closed," York said. "We will win whatever game they want to play."

Republican lawyer Robert Gordon has scheduled a "campaign kickoff announcement" for next week. He advocates a primary and says York has taken slow growth too far.

Supervisor Eugene A. Delgaudio (R-Sterling), an anti-gay activist and tough slow-growth critic, reported this week that he has raised $35,000 for his election campaign, half of his target.

Some Democrats on hand Monday, including Supervisor Charles A. Harris (D-Broad Run), who announced his reelection bid this week, said Van Huyck could split the slow-growth vote in November's election if York doesn't receive his party's nomination and runs as an independent.

But Harris, who declined to say whether he supported Van Huyck's candidacy, said the former planning commissioner's bid was good for debate and his party.

Former planning commissioner Alfred P. Van Huyck is running for supervisors chairman.