Building an RV park from scratch: Chainsaws, anyone?

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Machelle and the chainsaw!

By Machelle James
What do you do when you need to chop down huge juniper and shag bark shrubs? You call up friends and bribe them with food and a campfire! Last week, we started the process of making room for our RV storage area. In two days, we cut down about 1/3 of an acre and hauled off the trimmings to our local brush pit. That leaves us only 3/4 of an acre more to go.

AJ and Randy chopping down the shrubs

We weren’t feeling too bad that night and even the next morning we felt pretty good. Well, that was until about 3 p.m., then our arms and backs were so sore that we could hardly move. So, needless to say, we haven’t been cutting down any shrubs during the week as we needed to recover. We will save all this Paul Bunyan fun for the weekends.

And the land is cleared!

We did end up having an incredibly fun evening laughing and joking around the campfire, eating brats, chili dogs, corn on the cob and quinoa salad. I learned something new. It’s called, pyroflatulence. [Editor: I’ll save you the trouble of looking it up. It’s fart lighting!] I do not know how this topic came up but by the end of the night, we were all on the lookout for a blue flame. I think we all had tears from laughing so hard that this was even a THING!

We also met another local business owner up here, Brett Ferguson. He and his family are developing their own RV-campground-style development, but with no RVs and all park models with full-time residents. His development, Rocky Rim Resort Cabins, will be about two miles down the road from us. What is so cool about his plan is he will offer a HUGE splash pad for his residents! We both believe working together and having events for the children of our community will be a WIN-WIN for the children who live here and those that will visit up here!

Brett was filling us in on his Planning and Zoning journey and WOW did we learn a lot! He had massive pushback from the neighbors and he wasn’t prepared for the 70 people that showed up with their torches and pitchforks at the Planning and Zoning meeting. The good news is that after he presented his site plan and made some changes, the neighbors were onboard and his development was approved! This gave us massive confirmation as he said the Board of Supervisors were super-supportive of growth in our little town. It will be good to have referrals to each other’s business as there is plenty of room for us all!

Speaking of meetings, our neighborhood meeting is scheduled for next week at the Fire Station’s Community Room. This is our presentation to the neighbors of what our campground will look like, a timeline of events and, most of all, we can actually meet each other. As I’ve said before, I believe that after they meet us all and see the Site Plan, they will be pleasantly surprised.

I met another neighbor across the street and they are SO thankful we are here. I handed out the invitation to them for the meeting and we ended up talking for an hour! It seems the gentleman and I went to the same high school at the same time! Talk about a small world, we both couldn’t believe it!

You know when you’re doing the right thing and the doors keep opening? I recently started taking Yoga/Meditation/Tai Chi classes and the teacher is SO good that I offered to hire her to do occasional classes here for my kiddos! She is definitely onboard and I cannot wait to see how I can incorporate her classes for our campers. Will it be popular? Will the campers show up for the classes? I have no idea, but I am certainly going to try it and see how it is received.

Our checklist for the next two weeks is to get our land prepped for RV storage and to start building our fence. We need to have our neighborhood meeting, and we are moving our woodshed to its new location on the side of our home.

In my last article I asked for letters of recommendation to our local Planning and Zoning department. I read the letters and, I have to admit, I had tears in my eyes. The level of support from our friends, family and readers has been mind-boggling. I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to support us on our campground journey.

If you haven’t written to Planning and Zoning yet, I am going to ask one last time for an email of support before our meeting with P&Z on Feb. 20th. Would you please write an email of why we need family short-term RV camping here in Overgaard, AZ, why we need a safe camping place for our special needs kiddos, a place for kids to get back to nature, learn social skills and PLAY outside. We would be so appreciative.

Please send supportive emails to the new Planning and Zoning Supervisor, Berrin.nejad@navajocountyaz.com .

Thank you for following our journey and, as always, see you in the trees! And please leave a comment.

AJ, Machelle and Jenna
AJ’s Getaway RV Park

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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Don Nedrow
10 months ago

I enjoy reading about what it takes to develop an RV Park. i knew it was not to just level the land and there it is. i also like that you are including your neighbors in your planning ideas. i am not able to travel to Florida but if i were i would be there to support you. i will continue to read your development articles. We were in Orlando for a Good Sam meeting a few years ago by airplane..

Machelle James
9 months ago
Reply to  Don Nedrow

HI Don! Thank you very much for following our journey and offering your support! We are actually located in Overgaard, AZ which is in the White Mountains of Arizona! If you are ever out this way, please come visit us!