HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut’s farmers and local officials are seeking common ground on ways to ease zoning rules as farms increasingly offer specialty markets, community activities and agricultural tourism.

Farmers have complained that red tape is snarling various initiatives, from proposals for farm stands to parking for visitors who come to taste wine.

The Connecticut Farm Bureau is bringing local officials and farmers together in a conference Thursday to review state and local rules and help the two sides find solutions.

Some of the state’s 169 towns already have changed zoning laws or are revising ordinances to encourage diverse activities, such as horseback riding and smaller, specialty-niche farms.

“We’re trying to give the farmers a little more leeway in what they can do,” said Steven Sadlowski, Canterbury’s town planner.

Zoning regulations have traditionally protected neighbors who objected to visitors at neighboring farms, but residents now increasingly appreciate a town’s rural character, Sadlowski said.

For some farmers, frustrations with zoning boards run deep.

Paul Miller, owner of Fairvue Farms in Woodstock, said he built a 40,000-square-foot barn to nurse young cows in Putnam three years ago after he was rebuffed in nearby Pomfret because of a rule restricting building sizes to half of what he needed. “Regulations often are put in without a lot of forethought,” Miller said.

Jim Rivers, Pomfret’s first selectman, said the town’s zoning law could be adjusted to encourage more farming. But he said a “noisy minority” fiercely opposes altering the zoning law, believing any changes will threaten the rural eastern Connecticut town’s open space.

“They will torture you as a politician, throw lawsuits at you and torture you financially,” Rivers said.