City of Shawnee

Hickok Zarah Improvement District

The Hickok Zarah Improvement District is an area in southwest Shawnee that has been designated as a “Conservation TIF”. TIF is short for Tax Increment Financing. A TIF district takes money that typically goes to both a local school district and the county and redirects it to pay for infrastructure improvements in the district. See the map here.

A “conservation TIF” is an improved area comprising 15% or less of the land area within the corporate limits of a city in which 50% or more of the structures in the area have an age of 35 years or more, which area is not yet blighted, but may become a blighted area ”due, among other things, to inadequate utilities and infrastructure; dilapidation, obsolescence or deterioration of structures; and, the presence of structures below minimum code standards.

This action was approved by the Shawnee City Council on November 14, 2022.

With the district approved, the Hickok-Zarah Development Area TIF District can host one or more TIF project plans, proposed either by the City or by private developers to fund priority infrastructure.  Unlike a ”typical” TIF, tax increment generated in the Hickok-Zarah Development Area will be used to fund critical infrastructure, including internal infrastructure and key connections to adjacent arterial streets, trails and regional parks. While the list can change over time, potential infrastructure priorities include:

  • Intersection improvements at 75th and K-7
  • Curb/gutter improvements to ditch section streets
  • Improvements to Woodland Dr. north of 83rd
  • Neighborhood connections to regional parks and trails
  • Regional stormwater management amenity
  • Internal streets to support residential development
  • Infrastructure necessary to support small neighborhood-scale retail development

The first project being proposed is the completion of 80th street between Monticello and Woodland. It is an internal street supporting residential development, The City will have a public hearing regarding this project plan on June 26th at its regularly scheduled City Council meeting.

How does TIF work?
Tax increment financing is a tool under Kansas law permitting increased taxes from new development within a defined geographic area to pay for all or a portion of certain eligible development costs within that defined area.

Under state law, eligible costs are mostly limited to public infrastructure and cannot be used to fund building construction for privately owned buildings.

Properties within the district pay exactly the same taxes their neighbors outside the district do. The County, after it collects the taxes, separates the taxes from the new development and directs them to the City for payment of or reimbursement for redevelopment costs.

In Kansas, no TIF dollars can be spent until an approved TIF Project Plan is in place.
How is a TIF created?
In Kansas, creating a TIF is a two step process. First, a city can create a TIF district. That process requires a general plan for expected future uses in the district, involves notice to affected property owners and a public hearing. It also allows affected counties and school districts to object to its creation. After the proper notice and public hearing, if the City Council adopts an ordinance creating the district and the affected counties and/or school district do not object, the district is officially in place and the second step can begin.

Second, within an approved TIF District, the City may create one or more TIF project areas. The project creation process starts with a project plan document, that contains detailed information about the development to occur and triggers another notice and hearing process.

After proper notice and public hearing, if the City Council adopts an ordinance creating a project plan (a vote that requires a 2/3 majority in approval) the approved TIF Plan is in place for up to 20 years and TIF proceeds can be used to pay or reimburse eligible costs within the District.
Who can create the TIF project plan?
Kansas law requires the City to create the project area, but either the City or a private party can request the City create a project area.
Are there other steps the City takes, beyond what’s required in state law, when a TIF Project Plan is created?
The City has historically commissioned its own detailed, independent financial review of the proposed project plan. If a private developer is involved, the City may require the commissioning of a third-party market study. The City may also require the developer enter into a development agreement, which is a contract specifying the responsibilities of the developer in order to gain access to TIF reimbursement.
Is this a rezoning?
No. This is for a proposed TIF District. Any rezoning applications would go through the standard rezoning process required through the Planning Commission and City Council.
Will this improvement district increase my property or sales taxes?
The presence of the TIF district will have no direct impact on the amount of taxes levied within the improvement area. A TIF does not impose new taxes. Instead, it captures new taxes resulting from growth in the tax base and redirects those dollars to be used to pay costs of development within the TIF district.

If development does occur, often, surrounding property values will increase as the property within the district becomes more attractive for additional development. The City has no control over property valuation. That process is managed by Johnson County.
What happens if I sell my property?
The presence of the TIF district has no impact on a property owner’s ability to sell their property or to improve it or change it in conformance with other City requirements, such as zoning restrictions and building codes.
Is there a developer driving this proposed district?
No. The City initiated the process to create the TIF district and the City expects that it would likely sponsor one or more project areas in the future to assist in financing transportation and utility infrastructure needs within the district.
What is going to be built near me?
City zoning codes dictate the kinds of uses permitted on and near your property. The bulk of the zoning within the proposed TIF district is intended currently, and in the future, as residential except for the Martindale corridor, Midland corridor and potentially the corridor along the new Monticello alignment.
I am currently on a septic system. Will I be forced to connect to Johnson County Wastewater?
The presence of the TIF will not change the status of your ability to remain on septic. The City may consider programs to assist homeowners in migrating from septic to sewer in the future, although TIF proceeds generally cannot be used to finance utility infrastructure costs on the private side of the right-of-way line.
Will this provide an opportunity for additional street improvements such as curb and gutters and sidewalk connections?
Yes. TIF proceeds may be used for a variety of public improvements including constructing and reconstructing streets, curb/gutter, stormwater infrastructure, sidewalks, etc. The City hopes to use TIF proceeds to improve existing transportation infrastructure within the district.
There was a proposed Martindale Trail Connection the City discussed years ago. Will this be an opportunity to fund that project?
Yes. TIF proceeds may be used for parks, trails and public recreation amenities. The City hopes to provide additional connections to the Gary Haller trail and Shawnee Mission Park from this area.
I am concerned with traffic on Woodland. What is the City doing about that?
As development continues to come from south to north along the Woodland corridor, the City expects the need to substantially improve Woodland. It will be a very costly project and will require coordination with the City of Lenexa, that owns the southern most portion between the City limits and 83rd Street.

The City’s current Comprehensive Plan shows Woodland being rebuilt as a major collector which means an improved street with two driving lanes, a left turn lane, curb/gutter and sidewalks.
I have concerns with traffic at K-7 and 75th Street. How does this project impact that intersection?
The Kansas Department of Transportation controls the future of the K-7/75th intersection. The boundaries of the TIF district include this intersection and could permit the City to use TIF proceeds to serve as a local match for any future KDOT improvements to this intersection. The City estimates intersection improvement costs here could exceed $30 million. 
I have other questions. Who can I call or email to get answers?
Please contact the City's Business Liaison Steve Hauck with any questions. He can be reached via email or at (913) 742-6214.

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