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


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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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 and they make use of fabrication materials that can be repurposed.

Captn John

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.

Ed D.

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.


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.


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

Diane Mc

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.


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.


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.


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!

Tom Smithbrother

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

Jim Webster

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