Toby Coleman practices in the areas of land use, zoning, municipal law, commercial real estate and construction. He helps developers, landowners and others navigate the complex and varied processes for obtaining government approvals and permits for land development. Toby has deep experience in representing clients in all phases of the development permitting process, and has handled contested rezonings and quasi-judicial proceedings before boards, commissions and other authorities throughout North Carolina. Toby also is a litigator with knowledge of and experience in the unique aspects of land use law, construction law and real estate law.

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Toby is deeply involved in the development community. Currently, he is the Chair of the Triangle Community Coalition, a coalition which focuses on improving land use policy in the Triangle region of North Carolina. Toby is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Zoning, Planning & Land Use Section Council. He also serves as the president of the Board of Directors of BARCares, a program that provides confidential mental health counseling to North Carolina's legal community.

Toby’s practice as a land use lawyer is informed by his prior experience as a newspaper reporter covering local governments. Before Toby went to law school, he was a newspaper reporter for seven years, including at the Raleigh News & Observer.

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Areas of Focus



  • Chambers USA: America's Leading Business Lawyers, Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (2023-2024)
  • The Best Lawyers in America®
    • Land Use and Zoning Law (2020-2024)
    • Real Estate Law (2024)
  • North Carolina Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014-2020)
  • Editor-in-Chief, Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy


  • Duke University, J.D., cum laude, 2010
  • Duke University, B.A., cum laude, 2000

Bar & Court Admissions


  • Member, Board of Directors, Triangle Community Coalition (2017-2021)
    • Chair (2021)
    • Vice Chair (2020)
    • Secretary (2019)
  • Member, Board of Directors BarCARES (2014-Present)
    • President
    • First Vice President
  • Member, Section Council, Zoning, Planning and Land Use Section of the North Carolina Bar Association (2018-Present)
    • Co-Chair, Communications Committee (2018-Present)
  • Member, Urban Land Institute Triangle District Council
    • Management Committee (2015-2016)
    • Chair, Communications Committee (2015-2016)
  • Member, Design Professionals Liaison Committee of the North Carolina Bar Association (2014-2016)
  • Raleigh Chamber, Leadership Raleigh, Class 38


  • Represented owner/developer of a $200 million ecommerce distribution facility in a contested permitting case in order to successfully obtain the necessary land use approvals to begin operations.
  • Secured the issuance of all zoning and land use approvals for the conversion of a vacant “big box” retail store to office uses near Research Triangle Park.
  • Represented developer in rezoning of property for a new 155,000 square foot office tower.
  • Assisted a national affordable housing developer in rezoning multiple properties around the state for affordable housing, including successfully defending a neighbor’s appeal of the approval of a 60-unit affordable housing development on the North Carolina coast.

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  • Successfully represented national and local developers, commercial and local property owners, churches, and charities in zoning variance and other proceedings necessary to construct apartments, office buildings, townhomes, and other commercial and residential developments.
  • Represented owners, developers and operators in quasi-judicial proceedings approving power plants, quarries, self-storage facilities, a bulk fuel terminal and other industrial facilities.
  • Assisted multiple property owners and developers with obtaining necessary approvals in a restricted urban watershed area and helped push for reforms of unduly burdensome development restrictions.
  • Defeated a developer’s contractual specific performance claim asserted against the owner of valuable residential real estate, thereby preserving the property.
  • Successfully represented clients in multiple trial and appellate court cases involving special use permits, real estate contracts, commercial leases, and construction contracts.

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Publications & Alerts

  • New Law Expands Farm Exemptions from Local Land Use Regulation, Land Use Law Quarterly, October 2011
  • Limiting Judges: Placing Limits on Judges’ Power in Hard-Look Review, Univ. of Detroit Mercy Law Review

Events & Programming

  • Co-Presenter, "Zoning and Land Use Regulations," Laying the Foundation, Brick by Brick: A Sticks-and-Bricks Program for Construction Law, Live Webcast hosted by NCBA Construction Law Section
    Speaking Engagement
  • Webinar
  • "Breaking Up is Hard to Do! Construction Contract Terminations," 2015 Construction Law Winter Program, NC Bar Center, Cary, N.C.
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