Syracuse, N.Y. - A city board has given a group of Muslims the go-ahead to remove six crosses from the roof and spires of a century-old former Catholic church so the now-vacant Gothic structure can be used as a mosque.

More than 200 people had signed an online petition calling on the Syracuse Landmark Preservation Board to deny an application by North Side Learning Center, the church's new owner, to remove the crosses and build a six-foot chain-link fence.

Board Chairman Don Radke says federal law prohibits the board from interfering with a decision that involves religious freedom. The board voted Thursday to allow the church alterations.

About a dozen people who spoke at the meeting were evenly divided for and against the church conversion.