A pending court decision will determine whether Tree of Life Christian Schools may operate a school on its property at 5000 Arlington Center Blvd. In the meantime, however, the site will see alternative uses.

A pending court decision will determine whether Tree of Life Christian Schools may operate a school on its property at 5000 Arlington Center Blvd. In the meantime, however, the site will see alternative uses.

If plans are approved by the city, part of the former AOL campus could become a temporary meeting place for the Lane Avenue Baptist Church later this year. The church's longtime home at 1610 W. Lane Ave. is in the process of being redeveloped with a hotel and mixed uses, and the congregation will need a place to worship before plans to relocate to Hilliard can be put in place.

Chad Gibson, the city's senior planning officer, said a conditional use application was submitted by Lane Avenue Baptist, but it won't go on the board of zoning and planning (BZAP) agenda until all portions of the application are complete.

"Basically, they want to lease about 33,000 square feet on a temporary basis while their new church is being built," Gibson said. "According to their plans, that includes worship space, classrooms and offices on the first floor."

Gibson said that if the missing portion of the application - documentation that residents within 100 feet of the site have been notified by certified mail - is completed in a timely fashion, the application could go before BZAP on March 26.

Wayne Nicholson, senior pastor at Lane Avenue, said the Tree of Life site would be a good temporary fit for the church, which has a congregation of around 600 members.

"I think the facilities are very suitable for us," he said. "We told Tree of Life that it would be for about as long as it takes to build a new church home, and I think I've been told that that could be 10 to 12 months.

Tree of Life superintendent Todd Marrah said offering the facility's use matches Tree of Life's mission.

"We are a Christian ministry, and partnering with a local church is a great idea from our perspective," Marrah said. "Just as a landlord, we'd welcome the church coming. They've approached the city and asked for a conditional use permit, and that'll be between them. I couldn't imagine that the city wouldn't want them to stay."

Tree of Life purchased the former AOL/Time Warner building in August 2010, with the intent to use the property for a K-12 school - even though such a use had previously been denied by BZAP and that ruling upheld by city council.

A federal discrimination case based on the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) was filed by attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), the group of Christian attorneys who focus on protection of religious rights, who represent Tree of Life in the lawsuit.

While classes have not been held at the site for Tree of Life students since its purchase, it has not sat empty. The seven-building, 254,000-square-foot campus houses Expedient Communications' data center, its first in central Ohio. The campus is also currently hosting the Ohio Department of Development's 10-xelerator program, a 12-week program. Eyes Wide Open International, a nonprofit charitable organization, also operates out of the campus.

"We love the idea of partnering with other ministries and other people," Marrah said. "(Hosting a temporary site for Lane Baptist) fits our ministry center mindset."

City attorney Jeanine Hummer would not speculate as to whether a decision to allow Lane Baptist a temporary home in the ministry center would have any effect on the federal case between Tree of Life and Arlington, which is still in the discovery phase.