Building an RV park from scratch: It’s an emotional roller coaster!

29

By Machelle James

I think I have had more stress in the last two weeks than I care to admit. We have had many back and forth emails between us, Planning and Zoning and our Engineer. We had a deadline of May 1st to have all of the items they needed to be on the May Planning and Zoning Agenda.

What happened was there were emails coming in from all departments and we missed some items, as in: What are the locations and sizes of our water lines? Where are our parking and handicap parking spaces going to be? We also needed to show we are working with ADEQ (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality) to have them approve the engineering of our septic system. They wanted a design visual of our Monument Marker for our campground. So we have been working hard on making it look as accurate as possible.

We had a very stressful last-minute meeting with all parties involved. We needed five final answers and one was about how the RVs would turn around if they tried to come in when we are closed. Apart from our social media messages and prerecorded messages that we are closed, we needed to show visually on our Monument Marker that we are going to post a “Closed for Winter” sign. We needed to have enough driveway space for RVs to back out and turn around on our site plan. I am not sure who would turn down a street to a closed RV campground, as we haven’t experienced that yet and I hope we never do!

We finally answered the 94 questions that the neighbors asked after our second Neighborhood Meeting. It always is concerning when another local business owner is asking about our plans, rules and regulations. I wouldn’t even think to ask another business about their private security measures or the Kelvin lighting outputs.

I laughed when I read a question about what our decibel output is going to be. I have no idea and I’m not going to walk around carrying a decibel meter either. (We do not have a noise ordinance here.) We are going to be respectable campground owners and will not allow for rager parties and utter debauchery happening here. Just have some trust, for crying out loud. Think bike parades, hay rides, cornhole games, laughing and children playing. That is what I hear happening in our campground. My Oh My, how people’s minds run wild!

We also met with our local Auxiliary Sheriff today. He came by and gave us the most peace of mind we could ask for. He and our town officials are very aware of small town living complaints. Change is so hard for the folks that live here that they moan and complain about everything new that comes to town.

The dynamics have changed so dramatically in our town that there are families here now and it is open for business for anyone and everyone. But once they see a new business is not a threat or it really was a good thing that it was brought to town, they almost always change their minds.

This used to be mainly a retirement community up here and word got out that it is BEAUTIFUL up here. Not to mention the temperatures are WAY cooler than in the valley in the middle of summer. We still need a light jacket on summer nights as it gets chilly once the sun goes down.

Other than that, we have been working hard to remove tree stumps and we are starting to make our own Camp Site signs for our internal use. We have ideas to repurpose the wood we have here and we cannot wait to share them with you!

My next story will fill you in on our Planning and Zoning Meeting that is scheduled for May 21st. We are the first Zoom meeting that Planning and Zoning will be using to hold a public meeting. We are on the Agenda and it cannot come fast enough so we can get to the next step. Send us your good vibes and wish us success!

Thank you all for following our journey and, as always, See You in the Trees! And please leave a comment.

AJ and Machelle James

Read previous articles here.

Machelle James and her husband, AJ, are building, from the ground up, a 15-acre RV park in Heber-Overgaard, Arizona, in the beautiful White Mountains 140 miles from Phoenix. Follow them on Facebook @ AJ’s Getaway RV Park or on Instagram at ajsgetawayrvpark.

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Donnie
6 months ago

James, it seems that you had a very tough time in your recent construction project. All the best for your future meetings. Looking forward to your ideas on repurposing woods. I am closely associated with https://www.brooklynz.com.sg/ and they make use of fabrication materials that can be repurposed.

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Donnie

Hi Donnie. Its only been tough with getting the permit approval so far. I believe once we get the approvals, we should be open a few months afterwards! I’ll check out your website and see the ideas out there!

Captn John
6 months ago

Wishing you the very best luck. Too much NIMBY of things not going to bother their BY, just nosey. Worst of all is too much regulation, regulation is one thing but excessive is only to justify jobs and raise taxes.

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Captn John

Hello Capt John! Yes, the NIMBY truly is out of control up here. Our town is a tourist town for years now and not a retirement community anymore. Its truly beautiful here!

Ed D.
6 months ago

There will always be naysayers in this World. My advice to you is to keep on doing, what you are doing. It will all come together and the Town Folk will be glad you are there. We are looking forward to visiting your campground in the not too distant future and look forward to actually meeting you. Until then, keep on pushing forward! Best of luck to you.

Robin & Ed D.

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hi Ed! Thank you very much for your kind words and support! We do hope you will be able to come visit and see our little piece of Heaven here!

Teri
6 months ago

Soon the red tape will be cut and you move on to the real craziness: all of us descending about you!! Looking forward to the day we can be there. Hang tough, Be safe, Be well.

Cindy
6 months ago

Good luck! I appreciate all your hard work and maybe someday we’ll get to stay with you.

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Cindy

Thank You Cindy! I hope you do come visit us! We truly appreciate your support!

Diane Mc
6 months ago

So sorry for all the troubles you are having to go through. Understand there needs to be some regulation, but enough already. Especially for something that won’t bother any of the residents and bring income to the nearby businesses. BTW, not sure of your entrance, ins/outs, but trust me, if there is a dead end road anywhere, an Rv’er can find it. Don’t ask how I know :-). All the best to you and your family for your meeting on the 21st. Can’t wait to get an update. And to hopefully visit you some day.

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

Thank you Diane! And no there is not a dead end street, they would need to be able to turn around through! Or else they would need to wiggle through the neighborhood.
I can only imagine how you found the dead end street!! Reverse, Reverse!!

Rick
6 months ago

I’ve been following your letter/blog for sometime now, as I’m familiar with the area, very beautiful an tucked within the pines. Quiet community. It seems from your descriptions that city fathers and planners have something they can chew on to justify their keep. Your project is probably the biggest project they’ve had in many yrs. And they are coming up with every feasible and infeasible question they can think of, versus looking at the whole project and how it can benefit the community. Employment, additional tax revenue, supporting other business, etc. I’m curious if you, before starting this venture, got any assurances from the city fathers that this is something the community needed and some conditional approvals. Otherwise what a leap of faith. I’d also be putting more and continuous pressure on your lender. Seems like they are dropping the ball. Before Covid. There is a large rv park that just went in off I17, at Camp Verde. I don’t know how long it took them to get their permits, approvals, but when they started pushing dirt, it went up quickly. And it looks to be 90% full. All the best in getting your park open, it should be very nice and cool in the pines.

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Rick

Hi Rick! We had to write a Letter of Intent to our local leaders up here. How would our Campground benefit the community, how would it benefit the locals, what need would it fill. We said everything you did above as well as the lack of short term Family Camping up here and bringing Nature back to family life.
We also have been following the other RV Parks success. Not going to lie, I am jealous that they are open! Happy for them of course, as I would love to bring our families up here this year!

Rick
6 months ago
Reply to  Machelle James

Thanks. Hope one day to make reservations at your park. We do enjoy the area up there!! All the best!

Thomas
6 months ago

I’d suggest that you send these(your) posts to your nimb neighborhood so they can see the same things you describe to us. Your dreams and wants and how you plan to handle problems. Best of luck. It’s so hard to jump thru all the hoops . It’s a small wonder anything gets done. Back in the 1900’s you built it and it was done. Usually with pride and quality. Now days as you well know,nothing happens without research,permits, and who knows what else.
If you were a big time corporation,with attorneys and friends in high places and maybe some grease you’d have all the permits necessary.

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Thomas

Hi Thomas! I am pretty sure my neighbors are reading this. I post my articles on our Business page on Facebook and it is public there as well. I hope they do read it and realize we aren’t the bad guys.
It truly is a case of NIMBY!

Bill
6 months ago
Reply to  Thomas

Thomas, not sure where you were during the 90s, but I was an engineer doing land development work and I can tell you that all the things Machelle is experiencing were happening then – depending on the project it could easily be a year or two of planning and permitting before you could start construction.

Steve
6 months ago

I remember growing up and my parents constantly told me to “mind your own business”. It was very impolite to talk or snoop about others. Unfortunately Covid generation has amplified snitching. It is now virtuous. Politicians recommend it! Everyone is encouraged to snitch and stick their noses in everyone else’s business.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay not attention to the plank in your own eye?”

You can’t compartmentalize and only snitch on Covid violators. It will turn into snitching on everything. 1984 alive and well. See something say something on steroids.

To all you boondockers, (I would love to be one but I reside on the east coast) is not part of the attraction to open your door and NOT have someone staring at you and watching every move you make? You can live your life like no one is watching? Me too! I feel like we now all live in a crowded RV park and everyone is watching and judging.

I liked our world before the new generation of brown coats.

Disclosure- Not looking to pick a fight. Just the first thoughts that came to my mind reading the article. This is the sole opinion of this commenter and not the opinion of the author of the article :). If you are injured or offended by this, I take no responsibility. Call 911 and see your doctor. He may prescribe that medicine you saw on television. Lawyers and snitches MADE me say this!

Steve
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Correction. I incorrectly described the doctor as a he. My fault. I meant to say he/she/other.

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Thank you Steve for taking the time to comment. It is a new world we live in and not necessarily friendly to Entrepreneurs. It used to be The American Dream. And nowadays it is so expensive and so much regulation that it can be very deterring to follow through. UNLESS you have determination and will plow through no matter what because you believe in your dream!

Steve
6 months ago
Reply to  Machelle James

Thank you for responding.

Roy Christensen
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Comparing neighbors that complain about a building project with people concerned about COVID-19 is apples and oranges. If you don’t do social distancing or wear a mask when appropriate, you could cause me great harm and maybe death. That is being selfish and stupid. I go walking every day and most people are considerate. Some are not. Just yesterday, I was walking on a sidewalk with my wife when a man and I assume two sons were coming towards us. I waved at them to move over to the street. They continued to ride past us about less than two feet away. They easily could have ridden in the street on the shoulder. I said to him, “6 feet” and he responded:”walk in the street”. My wife and I are both seniors, both were wearing masks and do not want to pass close by anybody. I frequently will move to the street if I am facing traffic or if the other person doesn’t move over. Bicycles are supposed to ride in the street, especially if there are pedestrians present.
My point is if your actions will effect me in a harmful way, then I have every right to speak up. I do agree that most people do not like change and will sometimes needlessly complain.

Steve
6 months ago

Ok, I am not a professional writer so my point may not have been written clearly.

First, I totally agree that we all should have courtesy in these times. Our society seems to have lost it. I absolutely believe in the Golden Rule.

My point was people now think they have a right to tell everyone else what they can do.

Second, I draw the line when I am TOLD I have to do something when it should be a REQUEST.

I will play devils advocate, if I had a peanut allergy that could kill me or a bee sting allergy, should it be YOUR responsibility to keep those items away away so I do not die? as you said “…you could cause me great harm and maybe death. That is being selfish and stupid.”

I am no spring chicken and will fall into the senior category too soon.

It is statistically know age-wise that seniors are one of the greatest danger on the roads for accidents other than, I think teenagers. Now, put that person (who may be bee keeper!) in a Class A with no formal motorhome driver training and eating peanuts : ) Do I have a right to tell them ….”you could cause me great harm and maybe death. That is being selfish and stupid.”?

You also said “My point is if your actions will effect me in a harmful way, then I have every right to speak up.” Do I now have a right speak up to get seniors off the road?

We all have different levels of risk we are willing to take. Yes, protect the vulnerable.
I do not want to be held to your risk level, and I do not want to hold you to mine.

Oh, brownie points!
I too wear a mask when ever I am out (even though the Covid Task Force said it is not effective, remember that?) . Not to protect me but to protect others from my germs.

Anyway, I’m sure we are actually much more alike than different.
Thanks for taking the time to give me your opinion.

Angelack
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve

You say “Yes, protect the vulnerable.” Who gets to decide who’s vulnerable? You? I hope not. How are you going to protect the vulnerable? You don’t even want to do simple, little, compassionate things to help others because it might inconvenience you or infringe on your liberties. Scientific and medical experts are trying to tell you how to “protect the vulnerable” and all you want to do is whine about it.

Steve
6 months ago
Reply to  Angelack

Who is vulnerable is not in question. We all know the age, weight and other risk factors make you more susceptible.

You said “You don’t even want to do simple, little, compassionate things to help others because it might inconvenience you or infringe on your liberties.”

You don’t know me and what I have done. I am not judging you, but you are judging me, so you are proving my original post. Everyone wants to judge one another!

I wear a mask to help you and everyone around me, keep my distance, wash my hands, avoid the ones that i have been told to avoid. I say please and thank you. I even hold a door open for a woman 🙂

2. Where is the Whine? I am saying you have as many rights as I have. I am not being confrontational. I am saying we are all different and have different needs.

You take greater risk every day than being exposed to Covid 19. Why are you not as adamant about those risk?

If you take the risk to go out for a walk, It is YOUR responsibility to make sure you feel safe. Me walking does not risk your life. YOU walking risk YOUR life.

Tom Smithbrother
6 months ago

Very interesting all of the over regulation and people’s feeling of need to control other’s lives.

Machelle James
6 months ago

Hi Tom! It is true. Overreaching and bullying have become normal in today’s society. Heaven forbid anyone wants to become an Entrepreneur. The amount of pushback is ridiculous. Not in my Background is real!!

Jim Webster
6 months ago

Thank you for sharing your adventure with us. So interesting.

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Webster

You are welcome Jim! Interesting is a fantastic word. Building a campground in today’s society is not as easy as one would have thought. Thank you for following our journey!