Lacy Reaves practices in the areas of land use, zoning, municipal law and commercial real estate. He brings many years of experience to his representation of developers, landowners and others in rezoning cases, obtaining development approvals, and handling the myriad complex issues that arise in the development and use of real estate. He regularly represents national, regional and local developers in quasi-judicial proceedings and contested matters before governing authorities, agencies, boards and commissions throughout North Carolina and has extensive experience in trial and appellate court litigation involving land use issues.

Lacy is the founding chair of the Zoning, Planning and Land Use Section of the North Carolina Bar Association. He has been a featured speaker or moderator for the North Carolina Bar Association, the Urban Land Institute, the North Carolina Association of Defense Lawyers, the International Council of Shopping Centers, The American Society of Civil Engineers and various client groups.

Areas of Focus



  • Chambers USA: America's Leading Business Lawyers, Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (2021-2023)
  • Best Lawyers®
    • Land Use & Zoning Law (2007-2024)
    • Real Estate Law (2007-2024)
  • Best Lawyers®, "Lawyer of the Year," Raleigh
    • Real Estate Law (2010, 2015)
    • Land Use & Zoning Law (2012, 2016, 2018)
  • Business North Carolina Legal Elite, Real Estate
  • City of Raleigh “Day of Appreciation for Lacy Reaves,” Civil Service Commission (recognized for three decades of service), July 6, 2021  

  • Star Individual, Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use, Chambers USA: America's Leading Business Lawyers (2014-2020)

  • A Leader in their Field, Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 1), Chambers USA: America's Leading Business Lawyers (2007-2013)
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rated
  • North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society
  • North Carolina Super Lawyers (2006-2021)
  • Order of the Coif, University of North Carolina


  • University of North Carolina, J.D., with honors, 1972
    • Order of the Coif
  • University of North Carolina, A.B., Economics and Political Science, 1969

Bar & Court Admissions


  • North Carolina Bar Association
  • Founding Chair, Zoning, Planning and Land Use Section (2005)
  • Member, North Carolina Law Review
  • Chair, Raleigh Civil Service Commission (1990-present)
  • Member, Peace College Board of Visitors (1982-1988) and (1997-1999)
    • First Vice Chair (1998-1999)
  • Chairman, Board of Directors, Raleigh Hall of Fame (2013)
  • Past President, Rotary Club of West Raleigh (1988)
  • Director, Triangle Community Coalition (2003-present)


  • Represented the owner/developer of a 1,000 acre land assemblage in drafting ordinances establishing a new Sustainable Mixed-Use Development District adopted by the local governing authority and in the rezoning of the property to the new zoning district, which incorporates form based zoning principles.
  • Secured the issuance of all zoning and land use approvals and environmental permits for a regional shopping mall and peripheral development of 1.8 million square feet on behalf of a national developer.
  • Represented a national REIT in a heavily-contested rezoning of property for an office park of 900,000 square feet with integrated retail uses.
  • Negotiated development agreements for a number of large scale residential and mixed-use projects.
  • Twice successfully blocked approval of a 1,000-acre residential development proposed adjacent to an international soft drink company's regional bottling and distribution facility.
  • Drafted an ordinance enabling the sustainable redevelopment of nonconforming uses within a restricted reservoir watershed area and, after adoption of the ordinance by the governing authority, obtained approval of the first shopping center developed within the protected area in more than two decades.
  • Represented owners/developers in obtaining all land use approvals for a master planned commercial development that includes large retail and home improvement stores, a 22-screen cinema, a food store, and a 400-unit apartment complex.
  • Worked on behalf of the owner/developer of a 3,000-acre planned unit development to secure the grant of all zoning approvals and a vested rights certification and to later defeat in court the county's effort to restrict the development through application of a growth management ordinance.
  • Represented owners, developers and operators in quasi-judicial proceedings approving quarries, shopping centers, landfills, a bulk fuel terminal and other industrial facilities.
  • Negotiated public/private partnerships for developers for the construction of water and sewer utilities, roads, and an interstate interchange.
  • Successfully represented clients in multiple trial and appellate court cases involving zoning and comprehensive planning issues, commercial leases, special use permits, controlled growth legislation, development moratoria, and local taxation issues.



Publications & Alerts

  • "Smart Growth Makes Land-Use Approval More Challenging Than Ever," Co-authored with Jefferson W. Brown, Business North Carolina, August 2001
  • "Can Retail Survive (and Thrive) in the New Planning Environment?" presentation to Alliance Breakfast, International Council of Shopping Centers in partnership with the International Economic Development Council, April 2004
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