A muddled case concerning the color of a Northwest Washington office building became more confusing this week after lawyers for both sides traded barbs before a D.C. zoning panel.

The city's Board of Zoning Adjustment, after hearing nearly an hour of arguments, postponed the case until December while it awaits a legal opinion on the case from the D.C. Corporation Counsel's office.

The case was brought by Philip Brown and his cousin William Brown, who contend that Kaempfer Co. violated a 1985 D.C. Zoning Commission order by painting an office building at 1250 24th St. NW in the city's West End neighborhood. The Browns, whose family has owned the land on which the building sits for most of this century, contend that the structure's facade should have remained in its natural red-brick state, and that the building's windows should be green-tinted.

Instead, Kaempfer Co., which owns the building and has a 99-year lease with the Browns for the property, painted the brick facade an off-white color and installed clear glass. Last year, the Washington development company asked the BZA for permission to paint the structure's facade, but then it went ahead and painted it before the case came up.

As part of the original 1985 development package, Kaempfer agreed to preserve the facade of the 62-year-old building. In return for promised amenities, the developers were able to bypass the neighborhood's unusual zoning that calls for a mixture of housing and offices.

Consequently, Kaempfer Co. was permitted to construct a much larger office building than normally allowed under the area's zoning.

This week, Nicholas A. Addams, the Browns' attorney, sought to have the law firm representing Kaempfer Co. disqualified from the BZA case for allegedly violating conflict of issue laws. Addams, in documents submitted to the zoning panel, claimed that the Washington law firm of Wilkes, Artis, Hedrick and Lane should be barred from the case because one of its employes, Steven E. Sher, was involved in the original 1985 zoning case while he was a District government employe.

Sher, who was the city's executive director of the zoning secretariat until September 1985, participated in the Kaempfer case when the building project was approved by the zoning commission.

A few months after the zoning panel approved the massive office project, Sher resigned from his District post to take a position with the Wilkes, Artis law firm, which represented Kaempfer in the disputed case.

Sher, who is now the law firm's director of zoning services, disputed the conflict-of-interest charges. "I have not violated any law or regulation. We do not believe there is a basis for disqualification," he said.

Steve Levin, house counsel for Kaempfer Co., declined to comment on the case.

In addition to the Browns' appeal to get Wilkes, Artis disqualified from the matter, the law firm last week sought to have the entire case dismissed before being heard. In zoning documents, the firm argued that the Browns have engaged in "a seemingly endless series of attempts ... to sabotage the development of the property... . "

The BZA rescheduled the case, along with the assorted legal claims by the two sides, for Dec. 2.

Earlier this week, the Residential Action Coalition, a local civic group, urged the zoning panel to charge the Kaempfer Co. with violating the city's zoning ordinance in connection with the painting of the facade. "We find that the violation of the zoning order by the developer is substantial and egregious. This {project} as it stands is a boondoggle," the group said.

In a related development, Richard O. Duvall, a lawyer for the partnership of the 24th Street building, last week sought to prevent the Browns from making further statements to the press about the West End building. In a case pending before U.S. District Judge John H. Pratt, the development partners said Philip Brown's comments in a Washington Post article on the dispute last month were made to "foster further commotion and disruption of leasing."

Philip Brown responded: "They are trying to gag us."

Duvall did not return telephone calls for comment.

The D.C. Housing Finance Agency said this week that it has $9 million available for home loans for low- and moderate-income families at an 8 1/2 percent interest rate.

The deadline for the loan applications is Nov. 10. The mortgages are generally available to first-time buyers, but income restrictions apply. A two-person family can have a maximum income of $49,840, while a four-member family can have have up to $53,400. Sales prices of the homes cannot exceed $115,000.

More information is available at 628-HOME.

After years of lying virtually fallow, the northern section of Prince George's County's 1,300-acre Collington Industrial Park has attracted the interest of six large regional developers.

Created a decade ago when Fairfax County's Tysons Corner and Dulles Airport corridor and Montgomery's I-270 strip were luring most of the big names in the high-tech field, the Collington center has been a difficult site for county economic development officials to sell despite its good location just east of I-95 and south of Bowie.

After trying several strategies with little success, Prince George's contacted several hundred private developers during the summer, urging them to buy, lease or jointly develop the 400-acre northern section at Collington.

The top six firms were selected earlier this month and are now submitting detailed development plans. They are Birtcher, Butcher of Landover; Robert Drew & Associates Inc. of Lanham; Gardiner/Baxley of Crofton; Quadrangle Development Corp. of the District and Metropolitan Structures of Chicago; Rouse & Associates of Columbia and Smithy-Braedon of the District.

While county officials are extremely pleased about this pending development of the 400-acre tract, they are still very much frustrated by the lack of interest in the industrial park's 77-acre foreign trade zone.

Officials familiar with the site have theorized that it is too small to attract the kind of manufacturers, typically auto makers, that would benefit from the zone's tariff exemption during product assembly. These officials say the trade zone is also too far from a major port or the Baltimore-Washington International Airport to make the import-export business convenient.

IN THE BUSINESS ... An Arlington County survey in early May of 22,916 apartment units in the county (87 percent of the total) showed there was only a 1.89 percent vacancy rate, up slightly from 1.71 percent last November. Rents for new tenants in May averaged $515 for efficiencies, $630 for one-bedroom units, $709 for two-bedroom units and $807 for three-bedroom units ... Extensive renovations have started on a 12-story office building at 717 14th St. NW, a joint venture of Investment Group Development Corp. and Stern & Moran Properties Inc. ... Loantech Inc. of Gaithersburg has developed a new software program, called Armwork$ that it says will allow lenders and borrowers to compare the future costs of fixed-rate mortgages and adjustable-rate mortgages ... DRI Construction Corp. has changed its name to Dricon Construction Inc. ... The Department of Housing and Urban Development has reached settlements with three lenders resulting from their failure to find loan origination irregularities in Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages. Under terms of the settlements, Chase Home Mortgage Corp. will have to reimburse HUD for $129,177 for claim losses in connection with 10 FHA loans originated by its former branch in Miami, Lomas & Nettleton has agreed to pay HUD $59,627 and not submit insurance claims on 49 FHA mortgages originated by its former Oak Lawn, Ill., office and Merrill Lynch Mortgage Corp. has agreed to pay $369,795 for claims involving 37 loans originated by its Itasca, Ill., office ... Chase Home has also introduced a so-called portable mortgage, under which a borrower can lock in a mortgage rate for 30 years and transfer the same mortgage to other houses the borrower buys. This transaction can be done an unlimited number of times during the life of the loan for a $500 fee. Additional financing can be added to the original loan at then-prevailing interest rates. The portable mortgage, however, will be priced at one-fourth of a percentage point higher than conventional loans and can only be used in markets served by Chase Home. The firm has offices in the Washington area, Annapolis, Rockville and Annandale ... The F.W. Dodge Division of McGraw-Hill Information Systems Co. reports that the value of construction contracts in the District of Columbia are down 3 percent during the first seven months of the year compared with 1986, from $644,309,000 to 626,082,000. The July figure totaled $47,208,000, off 74 percent from the July 1986 figure of $182,154,000 ... Jay Burns, a commercial real estate agent with Hyatt Real Estate in Annapolis, has been appointed president of the Anne Arundel County Commercial and Industrial Agents Association ... The Montgomery County Board of Realtors is sponsoring a career night for minorities on Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Silver Spring Armory at 925 Wayne Ave. ... KMS Group Inc. and Constellation Properties Inc. have started construction on a second 75,000-square-foot, five-story office building at the Greens of Patuxent development in Laurel. KMS also has completed a five-story, 80,000-square-foot office building at 5801 Allentown Rd. in Prince George's County ... MUSCLE Inc., a nonprofit housing developer, has started renovation of the Buena Vista Condominiums, an abandoned six-building complex in the Knox Hill community of Southeast Washington, and on two buildings in the Columbia Heights neighborhood at 1106-08 Columbia Rd. NW. In all, MUSCLE is developing 144 units of vacant housing ... Firms and individuals who worked together years ago -- American Home Properties Principals, Nelson-Salabes Inc. and Harkins Builders -- have joined forces again to develop and build two projects in Columbia, the Merion and Heatherfield ... Ground was broken this week for Lake Arbor Towers, Prince George's County's first high-rise apartment building built in 15 years. The 12-story, 209-unit building is being developed by Shannon & Luchs-Kossow Development Group and is located at Lake Arbor development east of Capital Centre ... Prince George's County home sales were down 11 percent through the first seven months of the year compared with 1986, from 6,987 to 6,189, according to the Prince George's County Board of Realtors ... The Howard County Board of Realtors has named Georgiana M. Simmel, who is manager of ERA Caton Realty Co., as its 1987 Realtor of the Year ... Kettler Brothers Inc. has opened Glenbrooke, a Montgomery Village town house community ... Commercial Real Estate Women has elected Nancy Walker of Lenkin Co. as its president for 1987-88 ... Xerox Realty Corp. has started widening the westbound lanes of Route 7 along the frontage of its Lansdowne mixed-use development. The initial widening covers about 1,000 feet, but further widening will be done over a several-year period ... The Baltimore-Washington chapter of the International Association of Corporate Real Estate Executives has elected David W. Richardson, senior vice president of the First National Bank of Maryland, as the group's president for 1987-88 ... Oxford Development Corp. has formed Oxford Realty Advisors Corp. as a subsidiary of Oxford Mortgage & Investment Corp. ... George Mason University has agreed to house a collection of historical documents, photos and records dealing with planned communities, starting with those from Reston. The university formed a partnership with Planned Community Archives Inc. for the venture ... First American Title Insurance Co. of Santa Ana, Calif., has bought Columbia Real Estate Title Insurance Co. of the District.

PERSONNEL FILE ...Milton Co., a large residential builder and developer, has named Sheldon Blazar as senior vice president of finance and chief financial officer ... Wynmark Development Corp. has appointed Lori Seader as vice president, as well as Jeremy W. Taylor and Kent H. Worthington as vice presidents for development ... Connie M. Downs has been named vice president for administration at the real estate financing and consulting firm of Ivor B. Clark Co. ... Stephen Frank has been promoted to executive vice president and chief financial officer for Skyline Financial Services, part of Skyline Financial Holdings Corp., which is responsible for the court-approved reorganization of 332 EPIC LP, the real estate syndication that went bankrupt in 1985. J. Donald Klink has joined Skyline Mortgage Co., the mortgage banking subsidiary of Skyline Financial, as president and chief executive officer ... Joan A. Lipton has been named vice president of loan administration at the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. ... William N. Black has been appointed as vice president of communications for the National Institute of Building Sciences ... Ray Whitbey has joined KT Enterprises Inc., a commercial landscape management firm, as vice president for finance.