The Montgomery County Planning Board stalled a consolidation effort by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last week despite pleas from the agency and the General Services Administration that the delay would be "contrary to the national interest."

The first 1,000 of about 2,400 NRC employes now scattered at 12 locations in Silver Spring, Bethesda, Rockville and the District are scheduled to start moving into a 16-floor office tower above the White Flint metro station on Rockville Pike next month, but construction of more office space for the remaining employes may be delayed by the planning board decision.

The GSA purchased the high-rise building in July 1986 from Theodore N. Lerner and Albert Abramson, developers of nearby White Flint shopping mall and of the 14-acre site on which the structure is located, and leased the building to the NRC. Before the federal agencies entered the picture, Montgomery County had approved the developers' plans to build a 350-room hotel and 240,000 conference center on the rest of the site.

Now both federal agencies want Lerner and Abramson to scrap the previously approved plans for the hotel and conference center and instead build a second, 12-story office building to house the remaining NRC workers.

Last week, the planning board rejected the developers' proposal to substitute another office structure for the hotel and conference center, saying a single-use office building would not foster the kind of multiuse environment that is so important in a building above a Metrorail station.

The board gave the developers of White Flint North 30 days to incorporate sufficient retail and public amenities to conform with the transit station zone and to address glaring traffic and parking deficiencies they said existed in the current plan. This unexpected hurdle irritated NRC and GSA officials, who came out in large numbers to support the consolidation effort. John Montgomery, director of NRC's consolidation, said the delay threatens the construction plan for the new building, which they had hoped to occupy by mid-1990.

"We have been working to get everyone in one building for 10 years," said Victor Stello Jr., executive director of operations for the NRC.

He said the agency loses time and money and "suffers many inefficiencies because we are dispersed in 12 different buildings." He added that the lack of organization was particularly apparent after the nuclear accident at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania.

Studies since the 1979 accident, he said, have urged consolidation of NRC technicians. Delaying the move would effect the "public health and safety and is contrary to the national interest," Stello told the planning board.

In response, Planning Board Chairman Norman L. Christeller said: "There's no question such a move is desirable for the county and the agency." But he said the North Bethesda area the agency has chosen for its headquarters has been under a building moratorium since 1981 because of inadequate road capacity.

Besides the traffic problems, Christeller said there are also "serious questions as to how you can take a mixed zone and then put two office buildings there. We're being asked to approve something that has a pittance of retail."

GSA Regional Administrator Richard Hadsell said the NRC consolidation effort is part of a recent trend of grouping employes of the same federal agency at one site. For example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is moving into three high-rise office buildings at the Silver Spring metro station and the Defense Mapping Agency will go to a new headquarters in Northern Virginia.

Similar moves are under way by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Drug Enforcement Agency, said Hadsell, who helps oversee 62 million square feet of office space leased to federal agencies.

GSA and NRC officials argued that it was not the time to hold up the planned move, noting that 60 percent of their employes already live in Montgomery County and that county officials have been urging them to make the move since 1978.

Planners countered that the site represents a "unique opportunity, present nowhere else in Montgomery County, to provide new mixed uses, including office, retail and residential development on what is still vacant land in close proximity to a rapid-rail station."

County planner Joseph Davis said, "We've had absolutely no cooperation at all from this applicant {the developers}."

But, he said, there is "no reason a dramatically revised project can't get approved, especially one that recognizes the particularly sensitive nature of the land," sitting as it does on top of a metro station on traffic-clogged Rockville Pike.

"We've been after them for months, telling them their proposal lacks sufficient retail {space}. It needs an urban park to enliven it for the employes and it needs a day care center or other major amenity to satisfy the zone," Davis added.

Several planning officials expressed surprise at what they said was the poor quality of the developers' plan. "Their approach has been that the federal government need only flex its muscle and all sorts of hurdles will disappear," one observer said.

Jerome E. Korpeck, attorney for White Flint North, Lerner's and Abramson's company, said after the meeting, "when the planning staff talks about mixed use, they look at it with blinders on."

He said the 14-acre site was to be developed in three stages, with the final stage calling for apartments and retail space. "This would've given them the mixed use they are after."

But Korpeck did say that the group will submit a new proposal that includes detailed plans for day-care and fitness centers for NRC employes, public art, Rockville Pike's first urban park and enough retail space to satisfy the transit station zoning requirements.

County planners praised some of the measures that the NRC and the White Flint North group suggested to mitigate the increase in traffic that the commission's move will bring to the Rockville Pike-Nicholson Lane area. But the planners added that more on-site parking was needed as well as more realistic traffic studies.

The developers had hoped to count 327 parking spaces at the White Flint shopping mall, a half mile to the south of the NRC building, as part of their project.

Planners, however, rejected the idea. "They submitted nothing with their application to show that these surplus spaces exist," said planner Richard C. Hawthorne