Having devoted his life to land and agriculture, a retired planning and zoning expert from Shrewsbury Township has given York County the perpetual gift of a thing he has held dear.

County commissioners have approved Paul Solomon's donation of a 21.1 acre agricultural conservation easement. Valued at $39,399, the easement means the land at 3081 Steltz Road can never be developed.

Solomon, who lives just down Steltz road from the property, wrote in his grant to the county that he bought the farmstead in 2011 when it lay virtually in ruins. He spent his sweat and his money meticulously restoring the land and historic and aesthetic features of the 19th-century farm. As he nears the end of his life, he doesn't want his efforts to be undone, he wrote.

After commissioners approved the donation Wednesday, Solomon said he views the donation as a gift to future generations.

Second one: Solomon's is only the second property for which easements have ever been donated to York County.

Until last year, there wasn't a mechanism through which the county was legally able to accept donations.

Over the past 20 years, about $17 million in county taxpayer money has been spent to buy easements and preserve farmland through the York County Agricultural Land Preservation Board, with more than 38,000 acres saved from development.

But there hadn't been a procedure defined for people who wanted to donate land easements, saving taxpayers money while helping farm families who might not otherwise be eligible for an easement purchase, preservation board director Patty McCandless said.

There's a 50-acre minimum required for the county buy easements, but through a new program created last year, people who want to donate easements finally have an option, McCandless said.

The first donation was made about a year ago, when Casey B. and Sally M. Barnes gave $101,471 in easements for their 35-acre York Township farm.

McCandless said her office had long considered a donation program, but there wasn't a pressing reason for it until the Barneses and others offered to donate land.

For information about the program, call the York County Agricultural Land Preservation Board at 840-7400.

-- Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.