EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Tucked in the woods behind towering trees and along the Great Egg Harbor River off Thompson Lane is a secluded campground community.

Park model resort homes line the mini-community of Egg Harbor River Resort, along with ponds, a swimming pool, grass-lined roads and open spaces. And Paul St. James, the 84-year-old owner of the property, wants to bring a West Coast trend to the area: He wants it to be a place for tiny homes.

“I want the river resort not just to be a place to stay, I want it to be an experience,” St. James said. “We’re offering a home for your tiny home.”

Tiny homes, a trend captured on TV series such as FYI’s “Tiny House Nation,” have been popping up around the country, offering people a place to live that doesn’t take up more than a few hundred square feet.

The idea wouldn’t change St. James’ current campsite model, it would just offer people a new experience on the grounds that sit about 10 miles from Ocean City.

St. James, who lives mostly in Arizona, said he wants the business he’s had for about 30 years to attract and host the trendy, less-than-500-square-feet homes on wheels.

He currently has two tiny homes on sites on his property, and he’s hoping to put about 60 more there. Eventually, he wants the area to be filled with miniature houses.

“I said, ‘Gee this is a new home, nice, it looks great. This is a great opportunity to fill up my community,’” St. James said.

A tiny home can’t be placed anywhere — you have to go to a prepared site, he said, such as a campground. There’s no need for a building or a construction permit there since it’s not considered a permanent residence.

Peter Miller, the township administrator, said there would be no problem with having tiny homes on the property at the resort as long as they continued to operate with the same number of sites for which they are licensed.

Using a tiny home on a campground doesn’t present a problem as long as they are renting within the regulations of the campgrounds, he said. The property would continue as a camp model.

More than a year ago, St. James connected with tiny home manufacturer Liberation Tiny Homes, based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and had the first home delivered.

The company brought the home in 2017 and stuck it on the property — wood paneling on the outside of the 28-by-8.5-foot home equipped with loft beds, a bathroom, a kitchen and a hot plate.

It’s listed on rental site Airbnb, and the company pays rent to keep it on the campground, said Marcus Stoltzfus, co-owner of Liberation. He said it’s been occupied throughout the season.

“There’s a lot of interest from Jersey,” Stoltzfus said. “Folks who would like to put something in Jersey, but don’t know where.”

Stoltzfus said he believes the idea of tiny homes as the norm will eventually come to the state.

“People are trending backward and love to live more simply,” he said. “People want to focus more on job, family, being outdoors.”

St. James said the goal is to market the homes to people who are looking for simple living and for those who are looking to visit Atlantic City and Ocean City, both about a 15-minute drive away from the grounds. Staying at the tiny homes would be a cheaper option than a hotel or beach house, he said.

And it provides the experience, he said. While St. James lives mainly in Arizona, the property is managed by his team and maintenance man Bill Gross.

Gross often rides around the property to keep it up, and has been working on the idea with St. James.

“There is no other place down here like this,” said Gross, 65.

Contact: 609-272-7239 eserpico@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressSerpico

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