Building an RV park: WE WERE APPROVED!

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By Machelle James
Imagine having someone sitting on your chest. You are paralyzed and you can’t breathe. When AJ and I were getting ready for our Zoom meeting with Planning and Zoning Thursday night, we were just sick to our stomachs. We didn’t expect to be so nervous but we were. What if everything we’ve worked so hard for didn’t get approved? What if selling our home and everything we own to open our campground was in vain? The thoughts of doubt and fear are real when you have to prove your vision and dream is a good idea to the people you need to get approval from.

Thursday night we finally had our Planning and Zoning meeting after months of postponement due to missing information on our end and then COVID-19 and the government shutdown. We were having our meeting via Zoom, which is a first for our tiny town.

We had our supporters on the Zoom meeting as well as our opposition. We all had 3 minutes to speak and I went first. I was told that I didn’t need to speak about subjects that they already read about from our Letter of Intent or our Project Narrative (which you have to submit to P&Z when you are proposing opening a business in a town). I had to speak of issues that the opposition was concerned about as well as any new ideas or additions that we had.

We knew the neighbors were concerned with our security measures. So we spoke about our Emergency Plans that we are currently working on. We spoke about having a local retired Sheriff from the Valley being our nighttime security guard and how another local Auxiliary Sheriff offered to patrol our grounds at night.

We knew they were concerned about us becoming a year-round park so we addressed that issue. No, we are definitely not becoming a year-round campground. I think we would crash and burn from having to do this year-round. We look forward to the months where we can recuperate, refuel and get re-energized for the next season.

Another concern from the neighbors was they wanted our campground entrance to be on the busy highway, not on our quiet county road. After explaining our entrance would only go onto the road 300 feet and not past their driveways, I think that helped quell their concerns. They were worried about dust, speeding and road deterioration. I was pleasantly surprised when one of the P&Z members spoke and said he is an avid RVer and one can’t speed pulling a motorhome while turning 300 feet later.

The dust is and always will be on our dirt road and we were told there are no funds to asphalt or improve the road. It can be maintained, but not improved upon as our guests are by far not the only ones using that road to access the forest traill riding system. Also, ADOT does not want the entrance to be on the busy highway side as it would be an unsafe entrance because cars drive so fast on that road.

Our opposition also wanted a cap of our RV spaces at 40. Forty spaces for 15 acres. We politely reminded them that we could have well over 150 spaces here, but that was not our vision to pack campers in here. We also wanted to make it known that we are open to growth in the future. Who knows if in five years down the road we want to build more RV spaces or add more cabins or more buildings. I just wanted it out there that we are legally allowed to grow as we see fit, and we certainly have the space and the septic system to handle it.

I will say after hearing our supporters speak up for us, I had tears in my eyes. We left a fantastic community we had in Queen Creek, AZ, and we traded it for another fantastic community up here in Heber-Overgaard. The kind words of our character, our integrity and how we touched other people’s lives, really made me choke up.

Sometimes you don’t get to hear how much you mean to someone until they are gone, but I got to hear it while I’m still alive. It was humbling and a truly remarkable experience. I have been blessed with making true friendships over the years and sharing very unique bondings with them. Whether it be from our special needs community, our old subdivision community, or our off-road community, we have met amazing people on our journey in life. And I am thankful.

I would say the meeting was respectful, and everyone had their voices heard. We were unanimously approved to move forward with a recommendation to build here. Next month is our final meeting with the Board of Supervisors. We were told the BOS approves the suggestions of P&Z approvals 99% of the time.

The Board has heard every single rebuttal out there we were told. Their job is to bring businesses into town as long as all the requirements have been met. Our requirements have been met. It is going to be so exciting to see the dirt starting to turn over and the spaces begin to form. It will be a process for sure, and I am sure we will have bumps in the road. We will learn to be flexible and to appreciate what is coming our way!

As we celebrated last night with a warm campfire and close friends by our side (at a safe distance, of course), we cheered and cried and laughed. The most stressful part of this whole project was last night.

As for today, we had HUGE tree stumps and shrubs pulled out, and the ground is starting to get graded for our RV Storage. We were allowed to start working on that project as long as we don’t place RVs there for rent yet. But in the next couple of months we will have it ready for our RV storage guests!

We appreciate all of the messages, support and kind words. It means so much to us!

Thank you for following our journey and SEE YOU in the Trees! And please leave a comment!

AJ, Machelle and Jenna

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.

##RVT949

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Christian
3 months ago

Great Article. Does anyone know of a great course on RV Park Development. Or maybe some willing to train mentors out there?

David Campbell
4 months ago

Congratulations. I am also looking to start up an RV park and was wondering if you would be willing to go over the finer details with me

Machelle James
4 months ago
Reply to  David Campbell

Thank you David! I’d be happy to help. You can email me at machelle@ajsgetawayrv.com with your questions!

Michael MCcracken
6 months ago

Great to hear another RV Park is in the works. As a full time RV’er, we need more to meet the demand. Arizona has been my home since the mid 60’s. Congrats on your approval. You have just invested in a goldmine.

Machelle James
5 months ago

Thank you Michael! We are over the MOON excited to start the next phase! We also believe we will be very busy as there aren’t many short term family campgrounds up here!!

Karin Callander
6 months ago

Congratulations on a hard job well done! What an accomplishment. Karma. Good gets good, and glad to see it happening.

Machelle James
6 months ago

Hi Karin! THANK YOU!!! We really appreciate you and your kind words!!!

Jim Collins
6 months ago

Absolutely wonderful, wishing you all great luck in the future,. Would love to come and stay when you are done,

Dennis
6 months ago

Congratulations and happy to hear your supporters voice and defended your plan and character. We would be honored to rent a space from you two when you are open. The area looks absolutely stunning.

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Dennis

Thank you so much Dennis!! It definitely pays off to be a good person! We would love to meet you and have you as our guest. It is a LOVELY area and I have no doubt you will enjoy our trees and our town!

Tom Gutzke
6 months ago

Congratulations to you! A lot of difficult hurdles have been jumped with success. Best wishes for continued success and a great future outcome. We haven’t been to that particular area of Arizona but have heard that it is an excellent area to visit. Hope everything is done and you’re open by next year.

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Tom Gutzke

Thank You Tom! We truly appreciate your support! It has been a roller coaster of emotions, paperwork, human errors on all sides, financial ups and downs and everything in-between! I think once you visit our area, you will love it as much as we do!! We hope to have everything open and have you as our guest as well!!

LiVan_Life
6 months ago

I am so excited that you are nearly at the end of the permitting phase and soon you will be able to actually break ground! Can hardly wait for your next update.

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  LiVan_Life

Thank You LiVAn Life. That’s a great handle! Thank you very much for following our journey on building a campground from the dirt up!

A J
6 months ago

Nice. My buddy was fire chief of Heber-Overgaard for many years. We visited them once and it’s a beautiful area. I was stunned that, with a pair of binoculars, you could clearly see the rims of the craters on the moon due to the thinner and less turbulent air.

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  A J

Yes this is a beautiful part of the country. Small town with tall trees and way lower temps than in the valley. It is a secret that really isn’t a secret anymore!!

Don & Nancy Schneider
6 months ago

Congratulations on the planning side. Have you had an update from the bank on your loan so you can clear the financing hurdle top.

Machelle James
6 months ago

Hello Don and Nancy! We have a meeting with our Bank this week to see where we are in the process. We have several options going right now, so it will be interesting to see which way works the best for us!!

Cindy
6 months ago

So glad it’s nearly over. I hope the people who didn’t want the park will see it as an asset when it finally happens. Good luck!

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Cindy

Hi Cindy! I think they will once they see how nice it is, I also believe they will have no issues with us!

Marmi Diaz
6 months ago

I am so happy for you! May everything go as smooth as possible. Looking forward to visiting your place helping out and having Adrian involved when you have special events. Hooray!🏕🌲🌲

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Marmi Diaz

Hi Marmi! Thank you so much! We cannot wait to have events where you all can come over!! We miss Adrian!!! 🙏🙏❤❤❤

Curt Rigney
6 months ago

Congratulations!!!

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Curt Rigney

Thank you very much Curt! 🙏🙏🙏

Diane Mc
6 months ago

Congratulations! So great to hear positive news with all that has been going on. So very happy for you & your family. Hoping we can come visit when you are finally open. Best of luck to getting it all done and welcoming guests. Please keep us posted.

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

Yes, please do come visit us! It will be so nice to put a face to the name!! I’ll definitely keep you posted here and thanks for your continued support!!!

EARL
6 months ago

Congratulations on clearing this BIG hurtle. What a relief! Best wishes…

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  EARL

Thank you Earl! Truly…thank you so much for the support!!!

Rick
6 months ago

Congratulations!! Happy to hear that all your hard work, networking, meeting and discussing with your neighbors the positive impact your RV park will bring to the area. Not to mention a positive financial impact to local businesses and govt. Look forward to one day making reservations!!

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Rick

Hi Rick! Thank you for the kind words! It has been a roller coaster and I finally see the sun over the Horizon! Its a beautiful journey and we would love to have you visit us!

Carol
6 months ago

Congratulations! Very happy for you all.
We look forward to each of your articles.

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Carol

Awww! Thank you Carol! I’m so thankful to see able to share our story and appreciate you following our LONG journey!! 🤗🤗🤗

Bob Godfrey
6 months ago

Very nice! Congratulations, your hard work is obviously paying off.

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Bob Godfrey

Thank you Bob! Yes it is! And now the realness of it all kicks in!!!

Glenn
6 months ago

Congratulations on a stressful job well done. I’m very happy for you and will definitely swing by one day when you are up and operational. A long road ahead, but you are over the hump.

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  Glenn

Thank you Glenn! We are breathing a whole HUGE sigh of relief for sure!! Yes, please come visit when we open!!

tom
6 months ago

You Go! Girl

Machelle James
6 months ago
Reply to  tom

Thank you Tom!! We are a going!!