Prompted by residents' complaints about the increased use of digital billboards, a state senator announced Friday that he had introduced a bill that would toughen regulations on companies that want to erect the brightly lighted signs.

Applicants would have to meet with representatives from PennDot and the proposed site's town, and approval would be subject to hearings under the bill, sponsored by Sen. Andy Dinniman (D., Chester).

The bill, introduced Monday, would amend what he called the outdated Outdoor Advertising Control Act of 1971.

Residents have complained that digital billboards shine into their homes at night. Residents in a Downingtown neighborhood have been fighting for two months for a billboard company to shield the sign on the Route 30 Bypass from their view. They accused the company of not being up-front about the sign's impact on residents.

Residents in Phoenixville and Lower Oxford in Chester County and Haverford Township, Delaware County also have fought against static and digital billboards.

In Downingtown, the billboard company proposed a plan last week to plant trees to block residents' view of their digital sign, which turned on April 5.

Dinniman's proposal calls for municipalities to hold hearings that address the sizes of proposed billboards; spacing and lighting; traffic and pedestrian safety; open space issues; and the potential impact on development rights and on residents living nearby.

"It's time that the impact of digital billboards on local residents is considered, that their concerns are heard, and that local leaders have all the information and tools they need to make the best decisions for their communities," Dinniman said in a statement.

Dinniman said he expected the Senate Democratic Policy Committee to hold a hearing on the bill in Chester County this summer.

610-313-8207 @MichaelleBond