Sign of controversy: Kingsport mayor asks company to compromise

Huge Sign

KINGSPORT, Tenn. - A sign advertising gas prices is generating a lot more than sales. It's stirring controversy in Kingsport.

Drive down Fort Henry Drive, and chances are you won't miss it: the latest gas price at Murphy Express standing tall for all to see.

"It did kind of surprise me yes, being that large," said Adam Shepherd, a local resident.

Some told us they're seeing too much. "It kind of disrupts the driving too, because it'll grab your attention and cause you to look up at that and maybe drive into the side of somebody," said Carol Spears, another resident we talked to.

Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips told News 5 over the past few months he's gotten some complaints, and even he was caught off guard with this "mega-sign". "It's just one of those things that until it was there, you didn't really notice what it was going to look like, and once it's up you say 'My! Who approved this?!'" said Phillips.

Hundreds of signs are scattered across the Kingsport landscape and we learned they all have to meet regulations, like size and location, which are determined by city ordinances. "This is one of those that falls with the ordinance, but I think it's more that they only have one price that's about eight or nine feet tall," explained Phillips.

The mayor believes it's not adding to the beauty of Kingsport. That's why he sent a letter to officials at Murphy Oil hoping for some compromise. "Mr. Wayne Gibson is actually coming to Kingsport to look at the sign himself, and there [are] some alternatives that will probably make a better impression on the neighborhood," Phillips said.

We're told one alternative could be dimming the tone of the lights, but some residents say it's just a matter of how you look at it, and change isn't even necessary. "I drive past it every day, and I don't see [anything] wrong with it," said Denver Doran, a Kingsport resident.

Mayor Phillips also told us his meeting with Murphy Oil is expected to happen next week, and it's something the company is not required to do.    

Phillips also said he doesn't expect any changes to sign ordinances in response to this sign.

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