By Machelle James
(June 23) Here we are in Holbrook, waiting to speak at our Final Approval hearing with the Navajo County Board of Supervisors. We are last on the agenda and my nerves are building and I feel queasy. My mind tells me we are going to be approved, but my heart worries. The “what ifs” are overwhelming and the unknown is pure torture.
This meeting was available in person and on a Zoom Video Conference. We had our family and friends watching via Zoom as we had to wait our turn out in the lobby area. Due to COVID, only 10 people were allowed in the Chambers at one time. We have prepared and practiced our presentation a hundred times. AJ is pacing the halls like an expectant father, waiting for his baby to be born. I secretly sit here praying for approval and also that I don’t throw up. We were number 21 on the agenda, and we waited for two hours before we could enter.
It’s our turn and here we go, walking into Navajo County’s Board of Supervisors’ (BOS) office. It’s a surreal experience walking into this group of well-respected men and women, knowing they have the final say for us to pursue our dream.
Our presentation begins with an introduction from Mr. Chairman to Berrin Nejad, who is Navajo County’s newest Planning and Zoning employee. She has helped us tremendously in navigating this whole process. This is her first presentation with Navajo County’s BOS and she is shaking in her boots too. She gives the BOS a powerful PowerPoint presentation, with dimensions, drainage, and our artist renderings included. She addressed the few neighbors who were against us opening and all those that were for us opening up. She NAILED it! After Berrin’s presentation, it was our turn to speak.
AJ and I were told to speak about who we were and our vision of this Campground. We walked up to the podium, knees a knockin’, and we introduced ourselves. I spoke first about our family, our own camping concerns with Jenna being special needs, and our knowing how scary this must be for the neighbors to hear a CAMPGROUND is coming to their neighborhood.
We spoke about us living on the property, having support from our local community agencies and clubs (Chamber of Commerce, The Lions Club, etc.). I spoke about why we purposely went with a smaller number of really large spaces for our campground. It’s novel, it’s unusual, and everyone we talk to cannot wait to come here with our extra large spaces. Granted we are going to be the most expensive overnight campground in our town, not by too much, but that is the trade-off for large spaces. We are going to be about $20 a night more than other RV parks in our town. That’s even if they have availability! Most folks at RV parks here are full-timers.
Back to the meeting. We were asked a few questions about our septic and ADEQ (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, for water quality). Our Engineer, Will, answered all questions to their satisfaction. We were thanked for answering all 94 questions from the few opposing neighbors.
What really stuck with me was Ms. Whitesinger from District V. She thanked us for trying to be good neighbors and not building a mega RV park. That meant a lot to her when we told her we were building small, when she knew we could build well over 100 spaces.
After her thanking us for bringing positive change to Heber-Overgaard, it was time for a vote. The Chairman made a motion to approve our project and Ms.Whitesinger seconded our motion. Then Mr. Chairman asked, “Everyone in favor?” All said, “Yea.” “Anyone opposed? No? Congratulations, you are approved, AJ’s Getaway.”
I am sure we were both holding our breath until we exhaled and said our Thank You’s to the BOS. As we walked out and went to the lobby, we hugged each other, thanked Berrin, and asked her, “OK, what do we do now?” She said we will get a letter next week from Navajo County approving our Campground so we can start pulling permits. So we are patiently waiting for this paperwork and meanwhile, a surveyor is coming out to mark our roads so we can start on that.
Talk about an emotional roller coaster! We drove home pretty quiet, thanking our family and friends via text. It kind of hit us, as in, “WE ARE REALLY DOING THIS!” As we celebrate another HUGE hurdle, we want to stay focused, work with the bank, and get our septic and electrical engineering finalized. We are now only truly starting the beginning of AJ’s Getaway RV Park.
Thank you so much for following our campground journey, and See You in the Trees!
And please leave a comment!
AJ, Machelle and Jenna
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.