Changes are coming to the regulations governing signs in New Milford.

A public hearing is now under way before the Zoning Commission for input on regulation changes soon to be made.

"We got behind this," said Andy Grossman, Economic Development Commission member. "Changes had been discussed by zoning over the last two years but nothing happened. We heard what business owners were saying and gave a push."

The signage regulation was last amended in 2006.

Laura Regan, the town's zoning enforcement officer, said the impetus for making changes resulted from the EDC bringing forward business owners' concerns.

The draft proposal for Chapter 145 -- available online or in the town clerk's office -- is a reorganization and clarification of aspects of the regulation and increases permitted signage.

Free standing signs, off-site signs and temporary advertising signs are addressed. The latter would allow businesses to put up sandwichboard signs for special sales promotions.

"It makes a big impact on a small business not to be able to put up a sign days," said Adam Fragola, owner of Villarina's pasta shop in Lore's Plaza. "I'm glad to see this change, but it has to go further.

"I'm set back in the plaza well off of Route 7. I lost new customers coming in when my landlord started fining me $110 a day for my sandwichboard sign I put out on the sidewalk. I had to take it in."

Family-owned Bennett's Automotive Service also has concerns.

"I'm open one Saturday a month," owner Bill Bennett said. "I was told I had to take down my sandwichboard sign. I can't afford to pay for media advertising. I need that sign."

Other proposed regulation changes include that gasoline price signs could be LED/LCD illuminated -- a change Ms. Regan said would take into consideration the constantly changing gas prices and advanced computer technology.

For the village center zone, a prohibition would be removed on illuminated or neon signs in windows. A stipulation would also be removed about where commercial businesses signs have to be displayed on buildings' facades.

"I applaud the commission's effort to help businesses in these tough economic times," said EDC member Richard Saitta. "But I have some concerns.

"If the definition of billboard is removed, how could we rule against them? Can aesthetic standards be maintained on Route 7 with LED/LCD illumination allowed? Some blues and reds are harsh."; 860-355-7322