Dealing with local city officials

Hi Frank,

What is a good way to get an answer from local government official that I can trust and depend on? Is it possible to make those answers binding?

I have had several conversations with city officials, and there are few things that make no sense. One official says ‘yes’, another says ‘no’. One official says it isn’t possible to get docs I’ve asked for, another one tells me - ‘no problem - it will take me 15min to pull them up’.

One official says sign permit cost is $40 per each thousand of structure cost (which makes min cost for monopole permit $2K). Even though city ordinance has nothing in that effect. How do I know what I hear from them is trustworthy? Can you even trust any of them unless you find corresponding ordinance?

Same guy didn’t know how to get zoning map of the city. Hold on one sec, you issue permits that are directly dependent on zonings and you have no idea how to get a current zoning map? Really?!

So my question is how do I know what officials tell me isn’t some made up crud?

Thank you

There should be documentation provided by the city/state you are in that gives you concrete details on the questions you have. Just google the department of transportation for your area, call them, and then request this documentation.

What a city official tells you is non-binding and they are exempt from prosecution [the reason for this law is that otherwise a rogue city official could tell someone to go ahead and build a toxic waste site next to a school and the city would be bound by it]. So nothiing any city official tells you has any weight at all.

All that matters is what is written and adopted by the city and state as law. If the ordinance says 3,000’ spacing, and the city official says 300’ spacing, then 3,000’ is the correct spacing. All codes in the city must be in writing to be in effect. Always ask for the “paper trail” of any item regarding what you are after. That’s all that matters. Talk is worthless. If it is not in writing, then it is not law.

This helps! Thank you!