I’ve got quite a bit of experience in the permit process locally – enough to tell you that (as you’ve already at least partially discovered) this varies drastically from municipality to municipality, at least in the United States. So most of my experience in exactly how it works here may be inapplicable.
(“Municipality” in this sense doesn’t need to be a city; it can be a city, town, village, county, whatever.)
What you’d be dealing with where I am would be that while the State indeed doesn’t require a building permit for driveways (at least as long as you’re not trying to build one in an environmentally-protected area, in some of which doing pretty near anything can require a state Department of Conservation permit as well as quite possibly local ones; or trying to build one that would exit/enter onto a state road, in which case you do need a state Department of Transportation permit), this particular municipality does. But exactly what’s required is going to be a matter of local code – you referenced percentage of lot coverage; but there might or might not also be steep slope regulations, and the lot coverage might depend on whether the driveway’s to be made of impermeable materials or not (most are, but there’s some new stuff available that’s permeable), and so on. And there are probably setback requirements, from intersections and from the neighbors.
Local regulations are probably in the zoning code, at least if your municipality has zoning; and/or in a Town law. You’re entitled to have access to zoning codes and/or town laws. Call the village/town/city hall/county office building/whatever and ask them what regulations they have covering driveways and how you can get a copy. (They can charge you for copying, but they can’t just say you can’t have one; and you should also have the choice of reading it there during official hours.) – wait a minute, what year am I in? That’s all true, but they probably also have a website, and all the regulations may be posted on the website.
In any case, get ahold of the local regulations by whatever technique, read the regulations, and then contact the inspector again. I second trying to do this over the phone or in person, and explaining about your contractor’s language difficulty. Call and ask the inspector when is a good time for you to have a conversation about it.
Most local code enforcement officers are pretty reasonable, and some are quite helpful. Some of them aren’t.
Yeah, it may be illegal for the government to either recommend or recommend against anybody.
Talk to your neighbors about contractors. And if you do already know somebody with good Town Hall connections, talking to them is indeed a good idea – but don’t start out by complaining too much about the inspector; just say you’re having a bit of a communications difficulty. For one thing the connection may be a friend of the inspector; for another, you want to come across as being reasonable yourself.
– Where I am, you might need a hand-drawn sketch with distances to boundaries and such filled in, but probably wouldn’t need a survey, at least unless a neighbor is saying ‘hey, that’s half on my land!’ But again, municipalities vary widely.