Thursday, December 8, 2022


Building an RV park: We finally submitted the papers to P&Z!


By Machelle James

Oh, what a week it has been! Last Wednesday I had all my paperwork finally mailed to me. In turn, I was able to formally submit our zoning change to Planning & Zoning. To keep you in the loop, I want to share how much opening a campground really costs with fees and whatnot. This zoning change has a $300 application fee plus a per-RV-unit fee, so this fee was $540 that we had to pay the local Planning & Zoning Department.

I also was able to submit my Campground Site Plan as well. So as of now, the Planning & Zoning Department has everything they need to set up a zoning change hearing. We have reached out to the P&Z supervisor to get a status update, but have not heard back yet. I am sure she will get back to us in a couple of weeks, as we have new drama in our little town.

It seems a developer has come into town and bought 295 acres to build a 450- single-family and manufactured-home community up the road from us. This, of course, has caused panic, fear and mayhem among the locals. This would definitely change our town’s dynamics.

I’m not for or against growth here. I need more information and tomorrow is the meeting with the Board of Supervisors for approval or denial. They have already had their hearing and it didn’t go to well with the locals. While we are not building anything comparable to that massive scale, it was good information to see how the majority of the locals think about growth here.

Broken water main

While we keep improving our home, we found a burst plumbing line that goes into the house. While tearing down the old wooden steps, AJ found a buried hose bib under the dirt. It had a hose attached to it, so he was pulling at the hose and he ended up breaking the water main. It was a garden hose that was connected to the water main! We couldn’t even believe it! Talk about having an “OH NO” moment! AJ had to run to the edge of the property to shut off the water main – he was so winded after a 200-yard sprint. As a side note, that man can RUN! After assessing the numerous problems involved and calling up his dad, we came up with a plan.

Half a day later, all the plumbing issues were fixed and we were back in business. It is a strange feeling when you can’t flush a toilet or turn on a water faucet. I am super-thankful he was able to fix it correctly and bury all the pipes before a hard freeze came through that night.

Salvation Army

Also some fun updates. My ladies group here worked an entire day wrapping presents for the Salvation Army’s Free Christmas Event. This event was a first for me and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the other volunteers and learning more about them and networking in the process. We wrapped about a 100 presents each as well as stocked the tables with gifts for the kids.

I also met Neil, the owner of the Ponderosa Ranch Salvation Army Camp, that day. He offered to give me a tour of the 53-acre campground and of course I said YES! I cannot begin to tell you how much I learned from him – from how to save money on gazebos, ramadas, trash cans and concrete, and also about general design flows throughout the campground, including what worked and what didn’t work for him and his wife.

Jenna decorating cookies

What I also learned from Neil was to build in phases, what games the children like to play the most and how to make fun memories for the children. I was SO thankful to meet him and pick his brain. I have his card to keep in touch, as he also wants to see how we do and how he can help us.

It’s a beautiful family of sorts when other campground owners want you to succeed. There is definitely enough room for all of us and therefore competition isn’t what you would expect. It’s more, “How can I help? How can I offer support?” What a blessing! We will also pass this camaraderie on to the next campground entrepreneurs we meet.

Some of our 12 dozen cookies for cookie exchange

We also decorated cookies for our First Annual Cookie Exchange, and we had a visit from Santa while visiting our much-missed friends in the valley.

As we approach Christmas and New Year’s in the next two weeks, AJ, Jenna and I wish you a Fabulous Christmas. We wish you health, happiness, success and blessings.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! May your 2020 be the BEST year yet!

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

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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2 years ago

I’ve been reading your posts each week, Machelle, and I’m just astounded at all the hurdles you have to face in your effort to build a quality RV park!! Good luck. Hang in there. I hope you can relax a bit this week and enjoy the holidays with your family and friends.

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Sue

Thank you Sue! This process is not for the fainthearted! We will have more answers next week. We are having a wonderful time with family and truly enjoying our Christmas season!! Thanks again for following our journey!!

2 years ago

I wonder, Machelle whether you have considered that with the housing problems now , what are your rules going to be for someone who camps in your park and decides to stay permanently. Just reading Chucks letter about the RV parks in Oregon all filled up with permanents. We have camped in some parks like this and you feel like an imposter when you enter. All the permanent residents look at you like you are a temporary nuisance, and you don’t feel comfortable like you do when camping with other campers.

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Diane

Hi Diane. Since we will never have permanent guests, I am pretty positive this won’t be an issue for us. We have a 29 day Maximum as we are catering to a different clientele. Most will be locals getting out of the summer heat and those driving through our state. So short term guests only.
Of course should we come across that situation, we would call the Sheriff to have them removed. It will be in their contract that they cannot stay over 29 days.
I hope that helps answer your question

2 years ago

Keep a positive attitude when dealing with the P&Z folks. We know the frustrations associated with getting permits and we’re just trying to build a home on 5 acres out in the country. The county departments don’t talk to the state departments, even though they’re only 30ft apart in the same room! It took us 8 months working with the county to get their portion approved, with variances, only to be told that the state health environmental department had to review our plans too for the septic system that already exited onsite. Then we were told the septic field was to small for what we were planning on building, a 3/2/2 residence.
I feel that your involvement with the local civic groups will help you avoid backlash from the locals when going before the Board of Supervisors. Besides, your campground is not going to contribute a massive amount of new traffic to the area as the new 450 home development would. You got to figure there are going to be at least 900+ more vehicles added to the local roadways with that development. No wonder the local’s concern.
We look forward to one day getting to your campground when you’ve got it completed. Keep up the good fight.

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Ortep

Thank you for your input Ortep! Yes, we will be joining the Chamber of Commerce as well as other local agencies. We have been meeting the nicest, supportive people up here. The dynamics have been changing already in the people up here. Most were retired, and now, I see families and younger home buyers. It will be interesting at our hearing as we have a few negative Nellie’s, but mostly the families we have met are super supportive. It’s amazing just by meeting people and telling them what we are doing, they are already giiving us a recommendation to their friends!

2 years ago

So glad to hear your CG is coming along. Prayers for your continued growth.

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Rick

Thank you Rick! We appreciate and love to hear from our prayer warriors! Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!