Hoping to begin construction early next year, developers of the John Archbold estate on Reservoir Road NW, have asked the District of Columbia Zoning Commission to approve a 268-unit private residential development on the 42-acre estate.

The latest plan for the Archbold estate call for putting up 238 town houses-with prices starting at $250,000-and 28 detached house-with even higher prices-in addition to the two houses already on the property.

Known as Hillandale, the Archbold property is the largest privately owned tract in the District of Columbia and will become the District's largest private residential enclave if the development plan is approved.

Estimates are that the project will cost $80 million or more.

A single entrance-with a gate, if not a guard-is planned to control access to the privately owned parks, swimming pool and tennis courts in the development. Even the streets are to be privately owned and maintained, like the rest of the project, by a home owners association.

The private-enclave concept has been questioned by local citizens groups, but developers say they believe "some sort of security system is necessary" for a housing project that could wind up costing close to $100 million.

"We're doing it in the interest of homeowners. We think that's what they want," said Michael Gulino, vice president of Hillandale Development Corp. HDC is a subsidiary of Tecon Services Inc., a California firm owned by C.W. Murchison Jr., whose other interest include the Dallas Cowboys and Centex, a major suburban Washington Homebuilding firm.

When neighbors challenge the private enclave idea, Gulino said, "I tell them, well, it certainly is private now."

The property since the 1920s has been one of the homes of members of the family of John D. Archbold family. Archbold was the partner in Standard Oil Co. of John D. Rockefeller, whose estate a few blocks west of Hillandale is being turned into a housing complex somewhat smaller but no less exclusive.

While the Rockfeller estate is planned to have about 125 detached houses-in the $300,000 to $400,000 price range-the Archbold property is proposed for a mixture of town houses and freestanding homes. The detached houses are planned for the north edge of the property, abutting Whitehaven and Glover Archbold Park, which was part of the estate until the family deeded it to the government to assure its privacy.

Gulino said plans are to sell the lots for the detached houses subject to architectural controls and allow individual contractors to build on them.

The single-family homes are planned for the second and third phases of the Hillandale project which, if the planned unit development application is approved, would begin next year.

The first phase, 89 town houses, is proposed for the southern edge of the property, just off Reservoir Road opposite the Georgetown University Hospital.

The northwest part of the property-with 75 town houses and 14 detached homes-would be developed in 1981 as the second phase, and a similar-sized third phase at the northeast would be phase three the following year.

Gunno said another subsidiary of Tecon probably will act as construction manager for the project. Architects have not been selected. Sasaki Associates of Watertown, Mass., a nationally known land planning firm has developed the PUD plan, which fills an inch-thick application.

Under the District's PUD ordinance, the Zoning Commission will hold public hearing on the first stage of the application on June 21 and 25, and then hold a second hearing when detailed construction plans have been drawn.

Plans for Hillandale already have been revised in response to comments from civic associations representing neighborhoods around the project-Burlieth to the east, Glover Park to the north and Foxhall to the west.

At the urging of Burlieth residents, the single entrance to the project has been located on 39th St. NW between R and S Streets, opposite the old Western High School athletic field. The plan is to route all traffic south on 39th Street to Reservoir Road, where the District will be asked to install a new traffic light.

The existing entry off Reservoir will be closed to minimize traffic congestion with the nearby hospital entrance, but the tan stucco gatehouse and the stucco fence along the south boundry will remain.

The developers also have agreed to support Glover Park residents in urging the District to abandon long-dormant plans to extend 39th Street north through Whitehaven Park.

A major change in the financial structure of the multi-million-dollar development has been made at the option of the Archbold family. Originally the family planned to lease the estate to the Murchison group, which then intended to sublease individual lots to homeowners.

But the Archbolds have exercised their option to sell the property outright, Gulino said. The sale has not been completed and recorded, so the price is not yet public, but real estate industry sources estimate it is in the $15 million range.

Purchase of the property will eliminate the legal hassles of building on leased land-a common practice in Baltimore and other places, but untested here-but will probably push up the cost of the homes by making purchasers pay for land that would otherwise be leased.

The Archbold family home will remain on the property, probably to be used as a community facility. The 16,000 square-foot, two-story house is a 1920s synthesis of several 14th Century Italian villas.

The five-acre stand of hardwood trees near the house and as many of the other trees as possible will be preserved under the developer's plans, which call for clustering the town houses on the level portions of the property to avoid flattening its charastic hills and dales.

Courtyards serving the clusters of town houses will cover underground parking areas. CAPTION: Map, Shows developer's plan for erecting 268 units on the 42-acre Archbold estate. Hillandale Development Corp.