You've probably heard of Burke Centre. But you might well draw a blank on Milton V. Peterson. He's the operating chief of the Burke Centre Partnership that is developing that new community in southern Fairfax County.

For more than three years, Peterson has been absorbed in the planning and creation of the 1,390-acre, $50-million development, which now has more than 400 occupied dwellings. Burke Centre's eight-year plan calls for 16 times as many single-family and town houses, clustered and "zero-lot-line" houses and rental apartments, along with light industrial, commercial and retail facilities.

Peterson heads the small staff that does the daily planning, development and selling of lots to builders and he works closely with two partners, attorney John T. (Tii) Hazel and investor Giuseppe Cecchi.

The major financing corporation is International Developers, Inc., of which Cecchi is a principal. Hazel and Peterson have a 40 per cent interest in Burke Centre.

Frederick Kober, whose Christopher Companies is one of 21 building firms operating in Burke Centre, says he appreciates the impact Peterson has had on the new community. He said the developers are "responsive to builder needs to meet schedules. They offer amenities, but not too many.

"I like the rustic emphasis and the mix of house choices - even though there are a lot of us competing."

Traffic is a problem on Burke Lake Road, Kober said, but interior roadbuilding "looks good at this point."

Burke Center did not get its community zoning until the summer of 1975 and is not scheduled to be completed until 1984. It is expected to have 5,452 dwellings.

Peterson notes that as densities in the area increase, Burke Centre will need some of the roads that were planned but eliminated from the Pohick area master plan during the sewer moratorium of recent years.

Peterson is adamant that there's no way new roads can be pushed through existing centers of developed houses. He and Hazel suggest that lower Fairfax County needs a new major road, swinging from a juncture with Rte. 1 (south of Springfield) north and west through relatively undeveloped areas to connect with Rtes. 50 and 66 and reston, and Rte. 7 to the north.

"It wouldn't solve all the problems but it would take some of the pressure off Braddock Road and provide route alternatives," Peterson said.

Peterson, who was formerly associated with developer Stephen Yeonas, was born in Worcester, Mass, and got a degree in business economics from Middlebury College in Vermont.

After graduation he went into the Army and served at Fort Belvoir as a lieutenant. He also attended engineering school and got his real estate selling license while still in the service.

In the mid 1960s, after working with Yeonas, Peterson went out on his own. He built some single-family houses in Vienna, Va., some other houses with Clyde Anderson in the Vienna-Oakton area and town houses in the Vienna Commons development.

He was in a joint venture that built Yorktown 50 (an office industrial park) and later built the attractive 75-unit Assembly town houses in the City of Fairfax.

In recent years this 6-foot-2, 42-year-old father of four, who lives with his family near the Country Club of Fairfax, has been concentrating on Burke Centre. It was a long haul to get the land and the residential planned community zoning, he said.

Peterson plays tennis, golf and does a lot of skiing. His feel for recreation shows at Burke Centre, where the relatively high density of developed land planned - 13 residents per acre of non-industrial land - is to be offset by manmade lakes, schools, pathways, play areas, outdoor pools and tennis courts.

The Burke Centre Conservancy, the community association to which all owners pay assessments, is charged with the preservation of the quality of open space. It will also monitor the "built environment." One selling tool of the developers is their decision to turn over recreational facilities debt-free to the conservancy.

This spring the main east-west thoroughfare, Burke Centre Parkway, is being laid out through the community to connect Burke Lake Road and Rte. 123. Peterson said that a commercial center will be started later this year. CAPTION: Picture 1, Milton Peterson and a barn at Burke Centre the developers plan to use for produce sales by residents. By Bob Burchette - The Washington Post; Picture 2, The Drewer Development Corp. is building these $97,000 colonial and split-level houses in Burke Centre. By Bob Burchette - The Washington Post.