Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Building an RV Park: Happy New Year! – It started out a little rough for us

By Machelle James

(Written January 2) As we celebrated and welcomed 2020 from home, asleep and sick with some severe head and chest colds, we are happy and thankful we are on the mend today!

Family Christmas picture with AJ’s side of the family

We had a wonderful Christmas with AJ’s family, who visited us from California. We had 10 people here in our tiny cabin and I was definitely feeling stressed out that there wasn’t enough room for everyone. But we made it work as his parents stayed at the local Best Western and his sister’s family stayed with us. It was cozy and we were able to play cards, color and play games at our kitchen counter.

We also had two Elf on the Shelfs that had to make their appearance every night. Those girls wouldn’t sleep for hours so they could “catch” the Elves moving. Needless to say there were some sleepless nights in there.

Our property after the snowfall

We also played in the snow, as we had our first White Christmas! It was as beautiful as you can imagine – with soft snow falling all day and the days after. We had about 6-8 inches of snowfall last week. It was just like in a Hallmark Movie!

What is so beautiful about AJ’s family is that even though his mom and dad are remarried to wonderful people, they actually hang out with each other! As in, it wasn’t weird to have all us women in the kitchen cooking and all the men outside working on our side patio – together – with NO drama. I absolutely love that about his family. We all get along and joke, poke fun, play games, and also love and hug as one big happy family.

Our new side patio, almost completed

As the men worked feverishly outside in the cold, the ladies cooked and cleaned so they could finish the patio before they went back home.

Jenna met with Santa and his Elf

Jenna was able to visit with Santa at the local cafe, and we met locals who recognized us and wished us success on our campground. It was a fabulous day!

It was over way too fast, as we hugged and said our “See you next time” goodbyes.

We had our first Planning and Zoning (P&Z) meeting on New Year’s Eve to get the feedback from our plans that we submitted. It was good feedback and we learned what the Board needed more information on, such as what are our quiet hours, how are we fencing off the storage area, and more detailed engineering drainage information.

We also need to confirm which way we are going with ADEQ (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality) – whether we will start in phases or go all-in with the more-than-3000-gallon-per-day water usage. We are waiting to hear back from ADEQ to confirm pricing and fees from them to decide which way to go. P&Z did not like our partial hookup plan with electric only: They want full hookups or nothing at all. So we have a big decision to make.

It was also recommended to host a Site Plan meeting with our neighbors. We do not have to do this by law, but it is the neighborly thing to do so the neighbors can see what we have planned. It also lets us hear if there are any concerns they may have as well. I will work on this in the coming weeks and let you know how that goes.

We have the green light to start putting up our fence and to start building out the RV storage area. That may be hard to do in the snow but I will keep you posted in the coming weeks.

The ball is finally rolling in the right direction and we are confident we will have some spaces up and running for the 4th of July weekend!

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

Read Machelle’s 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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Erik (@guest_63555)
3 years ago

Thanks for sharing this information. I have been looking into the idea of developing or buying RV parks for the past 4-5 months. I live in Utah but actually own 18 acres in Showlow, AZ just 36 miles from where you are. Maybe I could do the same thing you are doing there in Heber-Overgaard. Or if you know anyone who may have an interest in developing in Showlow let me know…

Machelle James (@guest_63589)
3 years ago
Reply to  Erik

Hey Erik! Well I would definitely recommend you attend a RVIA or ARVC conference so you see which way to go. Either to sell your land or develop it. You need to see if this is for you as it isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. It’s expensive and time consuming. So you need to be passionate about whatever you do. There is a huge need for RV Campgrounds! And not just for long-term residents, but for those who need a vacation! I’d start by calling Planning and Zoning and ask questions about your land, zoning, potential issues, traffic, neighbors. What would be the likelihood it would get approved. Thanks Erik for taking the time to comment and following our journey. Let us know what you decide to do!

robert (@guest_60473)
3 years ago

I live in the East and may never get to stay at your campground as we don’t travel west much. But I want to comment on your electric only sites. We are in a class A and when traveling thru an area all we need and want is elect for the night for Ac and etc. We know many travelers that also just hook up elect because that is all that is needed for a night or two.

Machelle James (@guest_61703)
3 years ago
Reply to  robert

Thank you Robert for the feedback. That is definitely something to think about as we move forward. Not everyone needs full hookups!

Willie (@guest_60401)
3 years ago

Isn’t “the process” fun? BTW, It really is smart to do a meet and greet with your neighbors. You may feel that you’re ceding some control of your project over to folks who have no investment in your park, but again, it’s part of the process. You don’t have to do what neighbors may demand, but you should listen to them and let them get to know you. .

Local government likes to see the project meeting with the neighbors; in some jurisdictions it’s a requirement. These meetings tends to keep all parties engaged and out of court. And believe it or not, you neighbors may have some constructive comments for you! Consider serving some finger food, snacks, desert, coffee….etc.

Look at it from their standpoint. Right now many of your neighbors think you are a big city, rapacious, RV park developer. Prove them wrong.

The worse case in their eyes is that your project will become a run-down, dumpy RV park full of drug addicts. Change their minds, assure them that your park will be a neighborhood asset. Let them know that your park is going to be where their friends and relatives will stay when they come to visit!

As far as partial hookups go….P&Z may not know how the RV world is evolving. Educate them. With all the new Class Bs and van conversion based RVs, many of us need electricity-only spaces because we have cassette or composting toilets. And even though I’m 100% solar, I do on occasion like to plug into 110V, 20 Amp to charge my batteries in cloudy/snowy weather and use the park’s laundry facility.

To build all sites full-service will be a waste of your money and Class Bs and Van conversion folks will pass you by because we don’t want to pay a premium for a full hook when all we need is 20 amp power. Plus smaller, <30’ stalls for Class Bs and vans will be an efficient use of your developable space.

Good luck!

Machelle James (@guest_60428)
3 years ago
Reply to  Willie

Thank you Willie! This is by far the most helpful and insightful information we have received! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you for giving us this feedback. We discussed the smaller lots with electricity only for RV’s like yours and it was frowned upon by P&Z. I think an education is exactly what they need and I will work on the correct verbiage to educate them.
We also will show the neighbors we will not be THAT type of run down RV park. Thank you, thank you , thank you Willie! Happy New Year to you!

Ortep (@guest_60355)
3 years ago

Just a thought on ADEQ’s “all or nothing” comment, I feel that their request will pay off in the long run for your business. Once the public knows that your campground is a FHU CG you’ll be having a better occupancy rate for the whole year. Just my .02’s.

Machelle James (@guest_60429)
3 years ago
Reply to  Ortep

Thank you Ortep. It is costly decision in many ways. We just need to make sure we can do it now finacially or plan the Full H/U on phases. ADEQ hasn’t gotten back yet as I am guessing the people I need to talk to were on vacation. Next week I should have concrete answers.

Don & Nancy Schneider (@guest_60525)
3 years ago
Reply to  Ortep

Full hookups is the way to go in this day and age. Give a discount to those that only want electric…just make sure they dont abuse it by connecting to water and sewer. Also, make sure you have good Wi-Fi at all sites. Just my 2 cents worth.

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