Building an RV park: We’ve made some changes!


By Machelle James
Oh, we have some exciting news to share with you! We had serious concerns about opening up our campground with full hookups or partial hookups. Since Planning and Zoning didn’t like the partial hookup idea, we had to decide which way to go.

We and our Engineer, Will, were able to speak with ADEQ (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality) about our financial water concerns. After much back and forth about fees, septic sizes, rules and regulations, we decided to go for it and have our whole campground fitted for full hookups right from the beginning.

We still have to decide after some pricing considerations if we want to have one large 20,000-gallon septic tank with a 5-chamber-type setup, or two smaller septic tanks being 6,000 gallons each with some type of leach lines attached. I’m sorry I don’t have specifics on the septic verbiage; but, basically, we need to decide which way to go based on monthly water usage. We have added up the restrooms, RV spaces, any places water may be, and we are only at about 6,800 gallons per day based on ADEQ and Navajo Counties formulas.

We also met with our General Contractor, Haskel, and he recommend we start cutting off the limbs and cut down the trunks of our shrubs ASAP. He will come in with his tractor and uproot the stumps for us. We will keep the trunks of the shrubs and use it for firewood for our campers. This area we are starting on is where we will have our RV Storage area.

After we knock out the shrubs, we are going to start building a wall around our property. We will be using cedar fencing and I am going to be the one to spray it with sealer. I have a spray gun and I’m not afraid to use it! We will be starting on the noisiest side of our property, which is on Highway 277.  We got the go-ahead from Planning and Zoning that we can start on that side as long as we do not put any RVs for rent up there yet.

We now have our first campground meeting with Planning and Zoning on February 20. This is where we explain to the town our intentions and describe with a visual aid what the campground will look like.

The town will also mail out notification letters inviting the neighbors within 300 ft. to come and express their support or concerns at this meeting. I just finished writing my letter to the neighbors to a private meeting so they can meet us and see what the campground looks like before the P&Z meeting. They can address concerns to us personally and we can explain, educate and address issues before the main meeting. I think keeping the lines of communication open is so important to build trust and be transparent with our intentions.

I have to be honest with you – this is a really scary time for us. This is where we get actual costs and fees instead of estimates for the jobs being done. Are we going to have enough money to complete this? Will we get approved for our SBA loan for $500,000? The unknown is scary, yet we are moving forward with faith and determination.

We have options if we don’t get all our funding. Maybe we will open only half of the campground until we get income coming in. We will not know for a couple more months as an SBA loan takes FOREVER to get approved. We still have some savings from when we moved and sold most everything we owned, so that is good. But that will not last very long.

I am so thankful our General Contractor is willing to work with us. We are going to do whatever we can do ourselves to save money and he will take care of the rest. We can paint, lay tile, cut down shrubs, put up a fence and other non-permitted or specialty jobs that need to be done. I am so thankful we have friends and family that also offered their help, as we will take them up on their generous offers!

For now, I do ask that our readers and supporters take 5 minutes out of their day and write a quick email to Planning and Zoning before the meeting on February 20. Why do you think family camping is important? Why do you think getting kids back to nature is important? Is there a need for RV camping or is there an RV camping shortage? What about employing locals and giving back to the economy up here? Do you have a special needs child that you would bring here and feel safe about it? Any words of support would be so helpful to get approval from the Board of Supervisors.

You can send your email to:

We truly are thankful and appreciate you all!

Thank you for following our journey and See You in the Trees. Also, 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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I sent supportive email.

Alan Day

Just sent my email of support! I also can’t wait to make a reservation…better start a mailing list!! Good luck!


re: septic tanks. Not sure I can remember anyone saying they wished they installed a smaller septic tank. Assuming you have to hire someone to come and pump it out on a regular basis. What happens if their truck breaks down ? Having too much capacity might avert a disaster down the road. Hope everything goes smooth


Machelle—-your plans are progressing and I am thoroughly enjoying following along with your posts. I had no idea that things were as involved as they seem to be. Surely your neighbours will appreciate your plan to meet with them in advance of the official meeting. That sounds like an excellent idea to me. Continued good luck and yes, I will attempt to contact the planning commission and give your park the 2-thumbs up.

Jean Alley

I tried to send and email supporting the RV Park to the address you suggested and it wouldn’t send to that address. I would still like to send it. Can you give an update on the Navajo County email address? Thank you


I might suggest you gather some brochures from similarly designed RV parks, campgrounds, or resorts etc that are similar to what you are planning.
Having the pictures, site layouts, amenities, and such will go a long way to removing the general misconception of what many non RV folks have of a “trailer park”.
We primarily stay on the east coast, but will keep tabs on your progress for a place to stay on our occasional westward journeys.
Wishing you all the best in your new venture.

Ed D.

Good luck with the RV Park. There is definitely a shortage of good RV Parks across the Country.