The best approach to working with AHJs is to be the first to reach out for approval.
I have told my employees and fellow industry professionals this about 1 zillion times in 35 years. No one ever listens. For some reason, they are afraid of the AHJ. If you include them upfront, you will have far fewer issues in life. I have never had an AHJ tell me no. We find ways to make it happen, within the code.
You are correct, work with them early. I trained the plan check desk locally for a few years on submittal review because the position was typically a 2 year track to promotion.
I had argued with an old school electrical engineer that his design he wanted bid for a church was no longer to code. He told be to go away or bid as designed. So I did.
I won the bid, did the submittal drawings and presented to the reviewer. He looked shocked when I told him to write “Failed” as large as he could and then I gave him the code sections to list of why it did. We had a good laugh
I then sent those back to the engineer, with a new estimate for the system and a cost for submitting plans that would not pass according to his specification.
Oh I have had inspectors to tell me "you can't do that", but that is not "NO". If you get to them early, before you submit your plans for approval, you will save yourself a lot of headaches and time. After we have talked it through and I submit, I have never heard the word no. I have also never had an inspector to tell me no, submit it and let me look at it.
I have met a few that were as ornery as me for sure.