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Retirement Town Tells Kid To Scram ‘If You Let One Child In, Then You Have To Let All Of Them In’

Tue., Dec. 24, 1996

It may take a village to raise a child, but the folks in this retirement community say they finished rearing their kids long ago, thank you.

That’s why they enforced a rarely used ban on children and evicted a teenager who had moved in with his grandparents a year ago, allegedly to escape abuse at home.

Sixteen-year-old Chaz Cope has until Jan. 19 to get out.

“If you let one child in, then you have to let all of them in,” said Gary Locke, owner of the 111th Avenue Barber Shop.

Youngtown was founded in 1958 as a retirement community by one Ben Schleifer, whose reason for naming the place Youngtown has been lost to time. An ordinance in the Phoenix suburb of 2,500 requires each household to have at least one resident 55 or older, and people 18 or younger can stay no longer than three months.

Chaz said he moved in with his grandparents to escape abuse from his stepfather in Mesa, 35 miles away.

His grandparents, Jerry and Lynn-Rae Naab, refused to divulge the stepfather’s name.

The Naabs told city officials about Chaz and asked for an exemption to let him stay until he turns 18. The couple were granted a series of 90-day permits, but each time officials urged them to find a home for the boy outside Youngtown.

On Thursday, the town council voted 6-0 to order the boy out.

Youngtown, which boasts the nation’s first American Association of Retired Persons chapter, has paid a price for its position.

Callers to Phoenix radio shows have vilified Youngtown residents as grumpy old fogeys. An editorial cartoon in The Arizona Republic with the caption “O little minds of Youngtown” depicted a manger scene and three humpbacked senior citizens, one shaking a cane and shouting: “Get that bratty kid outta here!”

Most everyone concedes Chaz has not been any trouble. He works part time at a Pizza Hut and rides his skateboard with friends outside of Youngtown.

The Naabs face a $100-a-day fine and 10 days in jail for each day Chaz stays past the deadline.


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